Moon+H2O=Moonbase?

One of the big science stories in the news right now is that Earth’s Moon has more water than scientists expected. This Newsy video is just one of the hundreds of stories flooding news feeds.


This round of stories has been inspired by this article in Nature Geoscience.
Remote detection of widespread indigenous water in lunar pyroclastic deposits (Ralph E. Milliken & Shuai Li, Nature Geoscience)

This story about unexpected amounts of water on our Moon is certainly noteworthy, but it’s not the first time that a slew of news stories have heralded an unexpected abundance of water on the moon. In fact, it’a almost becoming a yearly ritual during the Northern Hemisphere’s late spring to mid-summer sluggish news season (probably not coincidentally, also highly correlated with summer vacation season).

For example, this article from Science Magazine in May, 2011 about water in volcanic materials on the Moon made the rounds of news media throughout the first half of summer that year.
High Pre-Eruptive Water Contents Preserved in Lunar Melt Inclusions (E. H. Hauri, et.al., Science Magazine)

Then this MIT News press release in May, 2012 and similar stories about water in Shackleton Crater (NASA) made the rounds that summer.

NASA’s Goddard Space Center posted this video about the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter’s (NASA) findings regarding water on the Moon in June, 2013. Predictably, the story made the rounds that summer.

The list goes on, but point made.

Of course, “scientific knowledge for the sake of knowledge” is wonderful stuff, but the real kicker to all of the stories is that unexpectedly high amounts of water on the Moon means that humans are much more likely to be able to establish viable bases there, and so plans for colonization of the moon (Wikipedia) are rendered far more realistic.

Happily, each year there are also more stories about how plans are moving along on that front, too. Here’s just one recent example from May of this year:
Commercial spaceflight companies seek to establish Moon base (Laurel Kornfeld, The Space Reporter)

So walking on the Moon “may” become less the stuff of hypothetical dreams than it has been since the Apollo 17 astronauts were last there back in 1972. Something to look forward to, right? Well, at least it is if you happen to be an astronaut or have mega bucks, but that’s another story…

In the meantime, us Earth-bound folk are going to have to continue to make do with a combination of real recordings and simulated experiences. Here’s a great two minute 360° Video from USA Today that does a fine job of combining both types of experiences.

Enjoy & Dream!


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