NASA’s new focus has been made clear: the space agency is sending humans back to the Moon — this time, in a sustainable way. At least, that’s the claim made by NASA’s administrator Jim Bridenstine, who says he’s not interested in just leaving “flags and footprints” on the lunar surface. “This time when we go, we’re going to go to stay,” he said at a meeting with NASA advisers in August.
But if we’re going to set up some kind of long-lasting lunar base on the Moon, that means we’re going to need to utilize the resources that we find up there to keep astronauts alive. Fortunately, the Moon may have quite a lot to offer.
For one, scientists are fairly certain that water ice sits exposed on certain areas of the lunar surface. Scientists confirmed the presence of solid ice on the Moon in 2008, thanks to India’s Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft. Then in 2009, NASA further confirmed that water was there after slamming its LCROSS spacecraft into a crater on the Moon’s south pole. Water is especially enticing since the liquid is so important to us here on Earth. Astronauts could potentially use this resource for drinking, bathing, and watering plants. There’s also the possibility of breaking water apart into its basic components — oxygen and hydrogen — to make rocket fuel for vehicles that are traveling to and from the lunar surface.
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