- Title: Ten years after 'suicide' mission, NASA thirsts for lunar water
- Date: 9th October 2019
- Summary: KORONI, GREECE (FILE - AUGUST 15, 2019) (REUTERS) CLOUD WISPS PASSING IN FRONT OF MOON CLOUD WISPS PASSING IN FRONT OF MOON BEHIND FORTRESS SILHOUETTE OF TREE LEAVES WAVING IN FRONT OF WHITE MOON FULL MOON
- Embargoed: 23rd October 2019 18:14
- Keywords: NASA lunar water moon LCROSS lunar impact water ice spacecraft
- Location: MOFFETT FIELD, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES / IN SPACE / KORONI, GREECE
- Reuters ID: LVA002B0DNJNR
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: A decade after NASA sent a rocket crashing into the moon's south pole, spewing a plume of debris that revealed vast reserves of ice beneath the barren lunar surface, the space agency is racing to pick up where its little-remembered project left off.
The so-called LCROSS mission was hastily carried out 10 years ago Wednesday (October 9) in a complex orbital dance of two "suicide" spacecraft and one mapping satellite. It proved a milestone in the discovery of a natural lunar resource that could be key to NASA's plans for renewed human exploration of the moon and ultimately visits to Mars and beyond.
The agency now has the chance to follow up on the pioneering mission, after Vice President Mike Pence in March ordered NASA to land humans on the lunar surface by 2024, accelerating a goal to colonize the moon as a staging ground for eventual missions to Mars.
According to NASA, the moon holds billions of tons of water ice, although the exact amount and whether it's present in large chunks of ice or combined with the lunar soil remains unknown. To find out before astronauts arrive on the moon, NASA is working with a handful of companies to put rovers on the lunar surface by 2022.
Instead of launching expensive fuel loads from Earth, scientists say the lunar water could be extracted and broken down into its two main components, hydrogen and oxygen, potentially turning the moon into a fuel arsenal for missions to deeper parts of the solar system.
(Production: Temis Tormo)
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