Scientists Are Elated as NASA Finds Water On the Moon

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NASA's dramatic Moon bombing has yielded more than sheer entertainment: they found water. Scientists are ecstatic that the Lcross probe reportedly shot up 24 gallons of water into the air when it crashed into the lunar surface. Here's why pundits and experts think the discovery is such a big deal.

  • Ice Holds the History of the Solar System  Kenneth Chang of The New York Times says the notion that there was water on the Moon was "tantalizing" to scientists for over a decade. "The confirmation of scientists' suspicions is welcome news both to future explorers who might set up home on the lunar surface and to scientists who hope that the water, in the form of ice accumulated over billions of years, could hold a record of the solar system's history."
  • Humans May Head Back to the Moon  Phil Plait of Discover Magazine predicts that the discovery of water will usher in a new era of exploration on the Moon. Euphorically, he describes the process the scientists used:
The Centaur slammed into it at high speed, making a new crater about 20 meters across and splashing debris over an even bigger area. A plume went up and out of the crater, and it was that tower of ejected material that had the telltale signs of water. The infrared spectrometer on LCROSS definitely detected absorption lines from water, and the ultraviolet spectrometer saw it in emission. Not only that, the emission got stronger with time, which clinches the deal! That's exactly what you expect by a plume containing water.
  • A Launchpad for Further Exploration  The New Republic's Bradford Plumer appreciates just how revolutionary this discovery could be. And he says The New York Times doesn't get it. "There's an even more intriguing answer in this old New Scientist piece: If there's water in the moon, astronauts could someday harvest it to generate hydrogen for fuel--say, in order to blast a ship out toward Mars," he writes. "And after that, maybe we can bomb Mars, find water, and off we go again..."

  • Overturning Assumptions  At Talking Points Memo, David Kurtz says the discovery is "something to make you pause and take stock of the limits of our knowledge."
  • To the Moon, or Bust!  At Gawker, Alex Pareene jokes that the discovery of water is a sign humans should "go back to the moon as soon as possible, in order to bottle its water and sell it to celebrities." Pareene can't wait to see what NASA comes up with next. "Bombing the moon worked! NASA found water! Now we must blow it up entirely to see if there is life."
  • Most Importantly--A Celine Dionne Comeback?  At Towleroad, Andy Towle says "the discovery also gives new life to a song from Celine Dion's eponymous 1993 album," Water From the Moon (see below for details):

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