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The Moon could hold enough water under its surface to meet the needs of a moonbase and to use for rocket fuel.
Scientists believe gases from ancient volcanic eruptions could have left ice hundreds of feet thick buried on the moon.
Researchers in the US believe two fifths of the water vapour spewed out of volcanoes erupting two to four billion years ago may have settled in craters where no sunlight can reach.
During that time, thousands of square miles of the moon’s surface was covered in huge rivers and lakes of lava which have created the dark blotches, or maria, which make satellite so distinctive today.
Andrew Wilcoski, graduate physicist from CU Boulder, said: “We envision it as a frost on the moon that built up over time.”
Co-author Paul Hayne, assistant professor in astrophysics at CU Boulder, said those stores would be a bounty for future explorers who will need water to drink and process into rocket fuel.
He added: “It’s possible that five or 10 metres below the surface you have big sheets of ice.”
The study adds to evidence that the moon may hold more water than many scientists have previously believed.
In a 2020 study, Hayne and his colleagues estimated that nearly 6,000 square miles of the lunar surface may be capable of trapping and holding onto ice, mostly near the north and south poles.
However where that water came from is still unclear.
Hayne said: “There are a lot of potential sources at the moment.”
A lot of ice will be concentrated around the poles and may be buried under several feet of lunar dust, or regolith.
One more reason, Hayne said, for people or robots to go back and start digging.
He added: “We really need to drill down and look for it.”
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