(Space.com) The discovery of water on the moon announced this week could make our celestial neighbor a more attractive candidate for a future manned mission. […]
“This makes the moon a more attractive destination to go to,” said University of Colorado astrophysicist Jack Burns, chair of the science committee for the NASA Advisory Council. “It’s a game-changer in the sense of future human exploration to the moon, in that now there is the potential of resources of water that future astronauts could tap so that we don’t have to bring this water from Earth.”
While the discovery of water does make Luna a lot more attractive than what we previously thought, it may not be enough for a lunar colony to become self sustaining (water wise).
(Universe Today) But the message the scientists wanted everyone to take away from today’s press conference is that a combination of water (H2O) and hydroxyl (OH) that resides in upper millimeter of the lunar surface doesn’t actually amount to much. The average amount of water, if extracted, is about a quart (1 liter) of water per ton of surface soil, or about 16 ounces (.5 liters) of water might be present for every 1,000 pounds (450 kg) of surface soil near the moon’s poles. For soil near the equator, only about two tablespoons of water is believed to be present in every 1,000 pounds (450 kg).
If the human body needs approximately 64 ounces of water a day, astronauts would need to dig up four football fields (hat tip: Discovery Magazine) worth of lunar soil in order for one person to adequately survive for one day!
Unless NASA can discover larger supplies of water ice beneath the surface or near the polar regions, then future colonies will probably be importing large volumes of water from our earthen cradle.