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Moon's wet.

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New research confirms what scientists had theorized for years — the moon is wet.



There is water on the moon’s surface and ice may be widespread in its many shadows, according to a pair of studies published Monday in the journal Nature Astronomy. The research confirms long-standing theories about the existence of lunar water that could someday enable astronauts to live there for extended periods.


One scientific team found the telltale sign of water molecules, perhaps bound up in glass, in a sunlit region. Another group estimated the widespread prevalence of tiny shadowed pockmarks on the lunar landscape, possible shelter for water ice over an area of 15,000 square miles.


So there is frozen water in shadows (on the surface!) spread over billions of "traps" that vary in size from a few mm to a few meters, and also some molecules in sunny parts, but as part of other compounds (so not usable). But the fact that there could be literally millions of tonnes of ice hidden in shadowy craters and traps is amazing.


They discovered this in some cool ways:



The new discovery comes from remote observation of the moon’s surface by an infrared telescope on SOFIA, a modified Boeing 747 airplane that flies high in Earth’s atmosphere and scans the moon’s surface. The instruments aboard the observatory detected subtleties in the moonlight at a wavelength of 6 microns, which the researchers believe is an unambiguous signal of water. “Only molecular water can create a 6-micron band,” Honniball said.


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These are the three companies competing to land humans on the moon:



Next year, NASA will down select to two companies, and they will be awarded contracts to land humans in the 2024-2025 timeline.  All three companies have ambitious plans, with strengths and weaknesses pointed out in several different articles.  


But the plan would work like this:  The Human Landing System (HLS) would be launched separately (and on commercial rockets) to the moon from the actual humans.  The crew would launch from the Space Shuttle derived SLS launcher aboard the Orion capsule (both NASA owned and operated) and meet up in lunar orbit with the lander.  The crew would transfer to the lander, perform their mission on the lunar surface, and then return to the SLS capsule in lunar orbit.  The lander would stay in lunar orbit, and the capsule would return to Earth. 

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