The rather chance discovery came from a look at pockets within crystals found on the lunar surface. Using new tech, researchers realized this ancient magma was as wet as Earth’s mantle—challenging how exactly the Moon formed, and where it gets its water.
This is similar, but not the same, as an earlier big water discovery involving crystals.
Over just the past couple of years, these water discoveries have been getting bigger, and bigger, and bigger.
Here’s a quick timeline:
- September 2009: A NASA instrument aboard India’s Chandrayaan-1 orbiter makes a big splash, with the first-ever detection of water molecules on the Moon’s surface
- October 2009: NASA bombs the Moon for water, shock and awe ensues as water ice confirmed to be found
- March 2010: The lunar north proven to be very, very, *very* rich in water ice
- June 2010: Initial announcement made that lunar apatite crystals were, in fact, not going thirsty and that the Moon’s interior had 100x more water than first thought
- November 2010: LCROSS’ Cabeus Crater shown to have way the heck more water ice than first considered
From mare to shining mare, the Moon has proven to have not just water, but some downright substantial sources of it…which will prove handy, for fuel, radiation shielding, and a cool drink. The Moon’s prospects as a station for mankind just keep on getting better :)