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Moons of our Solar System
Moons of our Solar System

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2.10 How much water?

Thanks to all of the spacecraft observations that you’ve studied this week, scientists are now able to state with certainty that there is indeed water-ice present on the surface of the Moon. But one key issue that remains unresolved is exactly how much lunar water there is. LCROSS measured 5.6% water in the plume generated by the Centaur impact into the floor of the Cabeus crater, but is that representative of all other polar craters, or is it exceptional in terms of its relatively high water content?

Described image
Figure 16 Image of the Cabeus crater showing where the LCROSS mission crashed the Centaur rocket section.

Given what is now known about the extent of the locations water is found in, and the mechanisms that are suggested for forming water on the Moon’s surface, how much water do you think there is on the Moon? How many swimming pool equivalents? And given the resources, how might you set about testing to see if you are right?

One thing is clear from the successes of the last few decades: finding water on the Moon is a big task, and needs people to work together to build up knowledge, so get sharing!