Subject: possible water ice on Moon!
Date: Tue, 3 Dec 1996 17:46:36 -0500 (EST)
Hello all, Isn't the news about the possible ice on the Moon exciting! Now they should be really motivated to send our guys back up there soon. I just d/led this article from Reuters at the following URL: http://www.yahoo.com/headlines/961203/news/stories/moon_2.html Possible Ice Lake on Moon, Pentagon Says WASHINGTON (Reuter) - A U.S. military spacecraft has found what appears to be an ice pond in a crater of the moon, a discovery that could open the way to a permanent, rocket-supplied human space colony, the Pentagon said. The moon is formed of dry rock and soil but officials say radio beams from a U.S. missile-defense satellite have spotted what seems to be a bed of ice roughly the length of four football fields in the deepest known crater in the solar system, near the moon's south pole. "Ice likely makes up part of the moon's surface layer," the Pentagon said in a fact sheet and statement issued in advance of a Tuesday news briefing on the finding. It said the apparent discovery requires further confirmation, however. "The discovery of ice on the moon has enormous implications for a permanent human return to the moon," the statement added. "This hydrogen and oxygen is a prime rocket fuel, giving the space program the ability to re-fuel rockets at a lunar 'filling station' and making transport to and from the moon more economical. "Additionally, the water from lunar polar ice and oxygen generated from the ice could support a permanent facility or outpost on the moon." U.S. Apollo spacecraft teams visited the moon in a series missions from July 1969 to December 1972. Pentagon spokesman Rick Lehner said most of the possible ice appears to be at the bottom of the crater in a pond about 400 yards long and an estimated 16 feet to 33 feet deep. The Pentagon said scientists believe the water for the ice was brought to the moon by moist comets that slammed into it over the past four billion years. It said most of the water evaporated in high daytime temperatures or broke up into its constituent oxygen and hydrogen atoms. But some may have spashed or dripped into the South Pole-Aitken basin, which is not only the deepest known crater in the solar system but is largely in permanent darkness so that the water would be trapped as ice in temperatures near absolute zero, the Pentagon said. The South Pole-Aitkin basin is about 1,500 miles in diameter and up to 8 miles deep. Astronaut Story Musgrave called the find a potentially major breakthrough during a late-night news conference from the orbitting space shuttle Columbia. "Clearly if there is ice and there is water out there, that is a natural resource which is extraordinarily important to establishing a permanent thing such as an observatory on the moon, or some kind of colony," Musgrave said. "We need to eventually find the natural resources, (have) a mining community out there, extract the oxygen and manufacture the materials we need out there as opposed to carrying them out there." The Pentagon said the apparent discovery was made by radio waves bounced from the spacecraft Clementine into the crater and back to dish antennas of the Deep Space Network on Earth. It said the radio waves could distinguish ice -- at least tentatively -- because rocks and because rocks and soil scatter them but the smooth surface of ice bounces them back in a coherent pattern. The Clementine spacecraft is a $75 million program launched in 1994 that uses the moon as a target to test sensors and other devices for a U.S. antimissile missile defense. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration supplied a team of scientists to analyze information from it. (Darn it all, and I'm too old to be able to go up there and live.<sigh>) Earlier Related Story at URL http://www.yahoo.com/headlines/961203/news/stories/moon_1.html Possible Ice Discovered on Moon - Tue Dec 3 7:26 am Gee, Geof, maybe you will be able to have a Live from the Moon PTK project, sooner than expected. Barb