Well, if this press release from NASA, NASA Radar Finds Ice Deposits at Moon’s North Pole; Additional Evidence of Water Activity on Moon, doesn’t put a kink into the attempt to terminate Constellation, that is our return to the Moon, I don’t know what will.
As also reported by Wired in, Millions of Tons of Water Ice Found at Moon’s North Pole, radar measurement of water-ice on the Moon is estimated at 600 million tons, which is 71.9 million gallons US or enough to fill 136,600 Shuttle External Tanks.
How did NASA look for ice on the Moon? NASA’s Mini-SAR instrument, a lightweight, synthetic aperture radar road aboard India’s Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft that orbited the Moon, scanned the surface looking for water. The Mini-SAR measures the ratio of left to right circular polarized power sent back, or the circular polarized ratio (CPR). However, a high CPR alone can’t distinguish between rough patches and regions with ice. The north pole craters had a high CPR on the inside, with a low CPR on the edges. That suggests a material enclosed in the craters, rather than surface roughness, caused the high CPR signal. According to NASA, the ice would have to be relatively pure ice and at least several feet thick to give this signature.
What does this mean for future explorers? Water on the Moon opens the opportunity for the Moon as a depot from which to explore Mars, the asteroids, comets, and beyond because of its 1/6th gravity well compared to Earth’s. For mission planners, this much water opens up doors to the beyond.
The emerging picture from the multiple measurements and resulting data of the instruments on lunar missions indicates that water creation, migration, deposition and retention are occurring on the moon. The new discoveries show the moon is an even more interesting and attractive scientific, exploration and operational destination than people had previously thought. Paul Spudis, principal investigator of the Mini-SAR experiment at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston
Unfortunately, the Obama Administration just a month ago decided to try to kill Project Constellation, which has as one of its goals the return to the Moon.Missions » Apollo »