Remember that experiment a few weeks ago where NASA smashed a probe into the Moon to see if any water would squirt out? The research is in, and it turns out there is a lot of water on the Moon.

This is huge news. Over at Bad Astronomy, Phil Plait exults:

The infrared spectrometer on [probe] LCROSS definitely detected absorption lines from water, and the ultraviolet spectrometer saw it in emission. Not only that, the emission got stronger with time, which clinches the deal! That's exactly what you expect by a plume containing water. Wow. The amount of water they found in the plume was a couple of hundred kilograms in total, but that indicates there is a lot more still lying on the surface.

In the diagram below, you can see the absorption lines from the water - they're the yellow bands.


Even more interesting is a comment from one of the researchers who studied the LCROSS readings. NASA scientist Anthony Colaprete said:

The full understanding of the LCROSS data may take some time. The data is that rich. Along with the water in Cabeus, there are hints of other intriguing substances. The permanently shadowed regions of the moon are truly cold traps, collecting and preserving material over billions of years.

Cabeus is the crater basin on the moon that NASA picked for the LCROSS impact because its shaded location provides enough of a chill to keep water from evaporating. But now it sounds like there may be other surprises lurking in the lunar shadows. I sense the beginning of a great new discovery - or at least, a great science fiction story.


via Bad Astronomy and NASA