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This is an image of the Moon showing various minerals found on the surface.
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About Lunar Water

In decades past is was accepted that the Moon contained no water. Moon rocks collected by Apollo astronauts (at lunar equatorial regions) contained no traces of water. Lunar mapping performed by the Galileo spacecraft at coarse resolution, shown here, found no traces of water. The recent Clementine mission, an Airforce mission, made measurements however, which suggested that small, frozen pockets of water ice may be embedded in shadowed regions of the lunar crust. Although the pockets are thought to be small, the overall amount of water may be quite significant, perhaps the size of Lake Erie.

This water may come from comets which hit the Moon from time to time. Water may also come from individual water molecules which migrate to the coldest regions of the Moon where they refreeze on the surface, trapped inside enormous craters -some 1,400 miles (2,240 km) across and nearly 8 miles (13 km) deep - at the lunar poles. Due to the very slight "tilt " of the Moon's axis, only 1.5 degrees, some of these deep craters never receive any light from the Sun - they are permanently shadowed. This means that the frozen water must remain there because otherwise energy from sunlight would split much of this water into its constituent elements hydrogen and oxygen, both of which would fly off into space immediately.

It is in such craters that instruments on board the Lunar Prospector spacecraft found frozen water. This water-ice could be mined and then split into hydrogen and oxygen by solar panel-equipped electric power stations or a nuclear generator. Such components could make space operations as well as human colonization on the Moon possible, since transporting water (or hydrogen and oxygen) from Earth would be prohibitively expensive.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA