Exploration for water on the Moon

There is a grim determination at NASA, and in the current US presidential administration that funds it, to get back to and stay on the Moon. Of course, it would be absurdly costly to ship out all the necessities for survival beyond a few days, the weightiest item being water. Protected by the frigid permanent shadows inside craters near the lunar poles, there may be some very old ice there (see Puffing up the Moon in April 2006 issue of EPN). NASA intends to crash a two-tonne spent rocket stage from a planned pre-landing mission into Shackleton crater, hoping to detect water vapour in the debris plume thrown up by the impact. Once the surveying satellite carried by the mission has done its job, that too is going to be crashed in the hunt for what is clearly more precious than gold for would be lunar colonisers.

Source: News in Brief. Nature, v. 440, p. 858.

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