In October of 2009, NASA blasted the Cabeus crater on the Moon's South Pole with a rocket, to look for evidence of water. Called the LCROSS mission, it was considered a huge success, after 25 gallons of water was discovered. However, a closer look at the data transmitted has revealed that not only is there much more water than previously believed, but also, other surprising elements.
The new detailed findings that were published in the Journal of Science on October 22nd, revised the Lunar water find to 41 gallons, leading the scientists to conclude that water ice makes up about 5.6% of the crater, or about twice as much, as that found in the soil of the Sahara Desert. The conclusion of this mind-boggling number was based on the fact that the LCROSS spacecraft picked up the evidence of ice for a full four minutes. If there had been less ice, it would have melted within the first minute and no further signals would have been transmitted.
Besides the abundance of water, scientists also found hydrogen, carbon monoxide, methane, mercury, calcium, magnesium and even traces of silver. And the amounts were not small - Together with the water ice, they accounted for 20% of the crater's surface. While Scientists are not sure how the elements got to the moon, the fact that they are there is making them really excited at the possibility of setting up a Lunar Space Station - At least in theory.
They believe that astronauts could mine the ice water for drinking, provided they could find a way to extract the mercury. They could also break it down into hydrogen and oxygen and use it for rocket fuel. The other compounds like elemental hydrogen, methane and ammonia could come in handy too!
However, before the astronauts start to pack their bags, there are a couple of things to consider. With an average temperature of minus 387 degrees Fahrenheit (-233 degrees Celsius), the Cabeus crater is not very habitable. Also, judging from the way the rocket impacted the area, scientists suspect that the surface is soft and porous, which would make it very difficult for Rovers or Landers to navigate through.
But then, there is no need to believe that the Cabeus crater is an anomaly. Researchers are hopeful that they will find other more livable areas on the surface that have similar characteristics, allowing astronauts to break their journey, as they head to Mars.