The moon is once again enjoying the limelight. A recent study about it is presenting a bold idea that alternative fuel for spacecraft may come from water scattered on its surface.
The Apollo 11 mission catapulted exciting researches and studies including the presence of water on the moon. Scientists have recently found that hydroxyl, a more reactive relative of water, is scattered around the surface of the moon and not just at the poles also known as “cold traps” or at specific terrains.
The research revealed that the hydroxyl has the capacity to be used as oxygen, drinking water, and even a gasoline for the rockets.
Using the Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) of NASA, the authorities were able to somewhat identify the magmatic water flowing on the surface of the moon. The groundbreaking discovery initially took place in 2009, and investigations have not ceased since then.
Researchers have yet to discover the source of the water on the moon, but what they know is that water exists both during day and night.
Joshua Bandfield, a Senior Research Scientist with the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado, said, “We find that it doesn’t matter what time of day or which latitude we look at, the signal indicating water always seems to be present. The presence of water doesn’t appear to depend on the composition of the surface, and the water sticks around.”
According to Michael Poston, a Southwest Research Institute Scientist, and Co-Author of the research, “When you split water molecules, you end up with oxygen and hydrogen, critical components for breathable air and rocket fuel.”
The elements that are used for liquid-fueled rockets are dangerous to the environment, highly combustible, and expensive. With the help of the moon’s newly-discovered water, rockets may now have a safer and better alternative.
If successful, water on the moon could send up future space missions. Astronauts could make a lunar pit stop and replenish their rocket tanks before continuing farther into the solar system.
The study is still in its nascent stage but because of the continuous effort and support from research facilities, water on the moon might soon become the next bold and big thing.