An artist’s rendition of the Centaur upper stage. Credit: NASA
In a recent story published in Ars Technica written by Eric Berger, the author discusses how the discovery of water on the Moon has changed the future of space exploration forever.
It all started in 2009 when a spacecraft called the Centaur upper stage smashed into a crater on the Moon and upon impact blasted up grains of pure ice. At the time, NASA’s lunar program was coming to an end. Since then a number of companies are planning a trip back to the lunar surface to investigate the phenomenon. Some companies hope to use ice to power spacecraft with liquid hydrogen in the future. Other countries are also expressing interest in this concept. There’s also plans to start mining lunar resources. That being said, the United States government’s ideals on space exploration have changed, shifting focus from the Moon to exploring a nearby asteroid and Mars.
However, some scientists believe that the “Journey to Mars” mission is unclear and under funded and the pursuit of exploring our Moon’s surface could prove to be beneficial in the long-run. According to the article, it’s about 20 to 100 times cheaper to deliver water from the lunar surface to Earth orbit, and it’s also 1,000 times cheaper to deliver fuel from the Moon than on Earth when staging a Mars mission. All hope is not lost as plans are in place for NASA and private companies to look for water resources on the Moon using robotic vehicles during the next five years.
For the full story follow this link.