The new era of space exploration has begun. It officially kicked off this week with the announcement that an instrument aboard the Indian lunar probe has detected unusual amounts of water molecules in the soil.
Equally exciting, the research data suggests that water formation on the moon’s surface is an ongoing process, not something that happened a few million years ago and is static. We tend to think of the moon as an inert rock—doing very little geologically. But there are lunar quakes and now, it seems, water is continually being formed.
Scientists speculate that the solar wind’s hydrogen charged particles are crashing into the oxygen rich lunar soil creating the water compounds.
Why is this a new era?
International scientists were able to piggyback on a probe launched and paid for by an interplanetary space newcomer. Americans reseachers had their Moon Mineralogy Mapper carried on Chandrayaan-1a, a very non-NASA platform. The results were analyzed by a team from Rhode Island to India. The Bloomberg report that broke the news had two reporters, one from England and one from India.
What's more, the results are a real contribution to our understanding of whether or not humans can sustain themselves on the moon on a permanent basis. Not a repeat of known information. And, finally, the results are of tangible interest to the lunar programs of, lets see, China, Japan, India, Russia, South Korea, the Europeans….oh, and America if we have a lunar program post-Augustine.
So begins the decentralization of space exploration, as meaningful data and results will be announced by researchers from what will seem to many a bewildering array of agencies, organizations, companies and organizations. For those used to Houston and Washington as the prime locations for space news, hang on…now the fun begins….