|The Planet Quiz Show|
NASA and the Department of Defense’s Clementine satellite started the controversy about the moon having water with its late November 1996 discovery of ice in a six-mile deep crater near the lunar South Pole. Smaller craters on the 6-mile deep Aitken Basin never receive sunlight. The temperature of these shadowed regions has been measured at a permanent -387° F, sufficiently cold enough to allow frozen water to remain exposed to the lunar vacuum for billions of years. Keep in mind that only one orbital pass of Clementine gave a radar signature of water. In 1998 another robotic satellite, Lunar Prospector, rekindled the debate with its data suggesting that frozen water was contained on crater floors of both the lunar North and South poles. Prospector indicated that the water was mixed in quantities of one percent or less with the lunar regolith (soil), but that pockets of nearly pure water, totaling an area of 1,300 square miles with a volume of about 1.4 trillion gallons, existed just beneath the lunar surface. The controlled crash of the 316-pound (158-kg) Lunar Prospector spacecraft into a permanently shadowed crater near the South Pole of the moon on July 31, 1999 produced no observable signature of released water vapor according to Earth-based telescopes and observations made with the Hubble Space Telescope. More importantly, the 838.2 pounds of lunar samples returned to Earth by the Apollo astronauts showed that the moon never had any water locked within its rocks, something that every terrestrial rock possesses. If the moon does contain water from water-rich comets that have struck the lunar surface in the past, it will drastically lessen the cost of transporting this essential liquid to the moon’s surface. It is now conservatively estimated that transporting water to the moon will entail an expenditure of $2,000 per quart. If students specify that the answer to the question is false because of Clementine’s and Lunar Prospector’s discoveries, the answer will be accepted. They will have to mention that a satellite may have discovered water on or near the surface of the moon.
|I was strolling on the moon one day-looking for water... Apollo 17 Astronaut, Harrison Schmitt, is running back to the Rover, carrying a scoop in his left hand. NASA image AS17-145-22165...|
|The blue spots on this photograph of the moon's south pole show the areas where Clementine may have discovered water right beneath the lunar surface. The area where the water was located never gets any sunlight because it is over six miles deep and is always in the shadow of surrounding crater walls.|