Water Found on the Moon
ALICIA CHANG | 11/14/2009, 9:47 a.m.
But it was NASA's Oct. 9 mission involving the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, LCROSS, that provided the stunning confirmation announced Friday - water, in the forms of ice and vapor.
"Rather than a dead and unchanging world, it could in fact be a very dynamic and interesting one," said Greg Delory of the University of California, Berkeley, who was not involved in the mission, led by NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif.
The LCROSS spacecraft only hit one spot on the moon and it's unclear how much water there is across the entire moon.
Scientists spent a month analyzing data from the spacecraft's spectrometers, instruments that can detect strong signals of water molecules in the plume.
"We've had hints that there is water. This was almost like tasting it," said Peter Schultz, professor of geological sciences at Brown University and a co-investigator on the LCROSS mission.
Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, who in 1969 made his historic Apollo 11 moonwalk with Neil Armstrong, was pleased to hear the latest discovery, but still believes the U.S. should focus on colonizing Mars.
"People will overreact to this news and say, `Let's have a water rush to the moon,'" Aldrin said. "It doesn't justify that."
Mission scientists said it would take more time to tease out what else was kicked up in the moon dust.
AP Science Writer Seth Borenstein contributed to this report.