13 November: LCROSS was a success and more water was discovered in the impact than expected beforehand

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Well, the first analysis of the results is in and LCROSS has turned out to be more of a success than we had expected, with a fairly larger than expected water signature in the plume that was created. The initial plume that astronomers and others tried to observe from Earth was certainly present but was not quite visible due to the height of the Cabeus crater, but the less visible rest of the plume made its way up to a much greater height.

As for the amount of water discovered - the amount turned up in the impact was about 100 kilograms. I caught the end of the press conference last night where one journalist asked about the previous discovery of water on the Moon (all over the Moon, not just at the poles) where even though water was confirmed to be present in the soil it was still much drier than even the driest desert on Earth. The reporter asked whether this discovery at the poles meant that it was still drier than all the regions on Earth and the answer was no, it's actually wetter there than some deserts here. The desert used for comparison was the Atacama Desert in Chile, which is apparently the driest place on Earth.

The other exciting news: looks like it wasn't just water discovered but perhaps even organic compounds as well - carbon dioxide, methane, ethanol, etc.

In short, with this discovery and the confirmation of water in the soil everywhere else on the Moon our previous understanding of the Moon as a dry and boring place has been turned completely upside down. And that's why we need to explore there first.

Here are two short videos from the press conference.

Edit: YouTube has a recently uploaded video on the discovery in Portuguese too so let's embed that as well.


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