In a discovery that could have major implications for the future of humanity, researchers have found frozen surface water on the Moon for the first time.
The water could be broken down and eventually used for rocket fuel or for oxygen to breathe, according to scientists, who note that the discovery is significant.
“These ice deposits might be utilized as an in situ resource in future exploration of the Moon,” researchers wrote.
The scientists added that the presence of ice on the surface of the Moon could also lead to the presence of ice elsewhere in the solar system.
“The abundance and distribution of ice on the Moon are distinct from those on other airless bodies in the inner solar system such as Mercury and Ceres, which may be associated with the unique formation and evolution process of our Moon,” the researchers wrote.
The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.
The discovery was made using high-tech satellite scans and imaging techniques that are able to differentiate between types of water, such as liquid or frozen, and whether it has been locked in the soil or minerals.
While the presence of water on the Moon is nothing new, (it was first discovered on the Moon in 2009 by three spacecraft, according to Space.com), the presence of ice on the polar regions could make lunar colonies a possibility. It would let astronautsharvest the water without having to bring it from Earth.
The presence of water on the Moon’s surface has also lead some researchers to theorize that its surface could have supported life billions of years ago.
Earlier this year, researchers revealed that water on the Moon may be more accessible than first thought, giving new hope for its potential.
The analysis, which appeared in the journal Nature Geoscience in February, could let researchers understand where the water comes from. It could also indicate whether it could be used to sustain life or for conversion into rocket fuel, breaking it down into its base elements, hydrogen and oxygen.
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