June 16, 2010
Moon Water Supply Estimate Way Up

When you move up to an underground warren on the Moon you'll be able to take long showers and install a hot tub (with high walls to deal with low grav splashing). A new scientific estimate of Moon water paints a much rosier picture.

WASHINGTON -- NASA-funded scientists estimate from recent research that the volume of water molecules locked inside minerals in the moon's interior could exceed the amount of water in the Great Lakes here on Earth.

Scientists at the Carnegie Institution's Geophysical Laboratory in Washington, along with other scientists across the nation, determined that the water was likely present very early in the moon's formation history as hot magma started to cool and crystallize. This finding means water is native to the moon.

"For over 40 years we thought the moon was dry," said Francis McCubbin of Carnegie and lead author of the report published in Monday's Online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "In our study we looked at hydroxyl, a compound with an oxygen atom bound with hydrogen, and apatite, a water-bearing mineral in the assemblage of minerals we examined in two Apollo samples and a lunar meteorite."

The new estimate is at least 2 orders of magnitude greater water concentrations underground than previously thought.

McCubbin's team utilized tests which detect elements in the parts per billion range. Combining their measurements with models that characterize how the material crystallized as the moon cooled during formation, they found that the minimum water content ranged from 64 parts per billion to 5 parts per million. The result is at least two orders of magnitude greater than previous results from lunar samples that estimated water content of the moon to be less than 1 parts per billion.

With the low gravity think of the sports possible with underground water slides. Solar panels up on the surface could power the water pumps to feed the slides. How about underground creeks in big sealed tubes where rafts would move along side hydroponic food growing areas?

Water polo in low G would involve much higher jumps out of the water.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2010 June 16 06:50 PM  Space Colonization

mr m said at June 16, 2010 7:31 PM:

i wish heinlein was alive to read these releases. whenever i read about the moon and the presence of water, I think of 'the moon is a harsh mistress'.

Xenophon Hendrix said at June 17, 2010 8:13 AM:

This post made me think of "It's Great to Be Back!" too, as well as TMiaHM. How about "The Menace From Earth"?

th said at June 21, 2010 3:35 PM:

What a joke NASA science has become, 30 years after apollo, they now discover the hydroxyl ion. Yessiree, we hope for a moon waterpark free to the poorest, most subsistence-level freaks from all over the universe, yessiree, now we can.

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