In a groundbreaking discovery, scientists have found a new and renewable source of water on the moon in lunar samples returned from a Chinese mission. This finding is significant for future lunar explorers as it provides a potential source of water that could be used for drinking, farming, and even fuel.
The Chang'e-5 mission was launched by China last year with the aim of collecting lunar samples and bringing them back to Earth. The samples were analyzed by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) who discovered that they contained traces of H2O molecules.
According to Professor David Paige from UCLA's Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences: "The discovery of water in these samples is exciting because it suggests that there may be more sources of water on the moon than previously thought."
While previous missions had detected signs of ice near the moon's poles, this is the first time that scientists have confirmed the presence of water molecules within lunar rocks. This discovery opens up new possibilities for sustained human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit.
"It's an important step forward in our understanding of how much water there really is on our nearest neighbor," said Dr. Casey Honniball from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.
NASA has plans to return astronauts to the moon under its Artemis program as soon as 2024. With this new discovery, future missions could potentially rely less on costly resupply missions from Earth and instead extract necessary resources directly from the moon itself.
As space agencies around the world continue their efforts towards exploring space for scientific research or commercial purposes like mining natural resources such as helium-3 or rare earth metals; this latest development marks another milestone achievement in space exploration history.