New Lunar Water Find Scrambles Extraction Efforts

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Lunar Water Means New Challenges
Aviation Week

The unequivocal and unexpected discovery of widespread water in the uppermost layer of the moon’s surface means a whole new set of challenges for engineers working on methods for future astronauts to extract lunar resources.

The amount could be as much as 1,000 water molecule parts-per-million, which could yield up to 32 ounces of water, or one quart, for each ton of the top layer of lunar regolith. Getting that water out poses a new challenge for lunar exploration engineers, who have been focused on techniques for retrieving water ice from permanently shadowed craters at the lunar poles.

“The process for harvesting it is completely different from what they were intending with the permanently shadowed areas,” says Carle Pieters, principal investigator for NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) instrument, which sparked the water findings. “So that’s a brand new challenge that is now on their table.”

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