It's official: there is water on the moon.

The Sea of Tranquility may not be sloshing with it, but moon rock is officially damp - to the tune of a litre of water per cubic metre.

When Apollo astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first returned from the moon, the moon rocks they brought back appeared to have water content, but scientists couldn't be at all confident that this wasn't due to contamination.

They briefly hoped that the oxygen on the moon was a different isotope (that it would have a different number of neutrons, hence weight, per atom) to that on earth, but that wasn't the case: earth water and moon water would not be detectably different.

So Chandrayaan-1 is the latest of three missions to make contamination of samples completely impossible, by virtue of going nowhere near them.

The mission used reflecting technology, beaming electro-magnetic waves ('light') to the surface and calculating the substances from the reflected beams.

It's thought the water is created by the solar wind causing protons (Hydrogen nuclei) to become attached to oxygen in the moon's surface, creating first hydroxyl molecules (HO), then water (H2O).

The news comes alongside discovery of some near pure ice on Mars, where scientists only expected to find it well-mixed with rock.

India will be delighted that it has made such a concrete contribution to lunar exploration.

Between them, China and India represent a great deal of interest in returning to the moon with US plans ironically on ice due to budget cuts.

Whilst in the very long term this makes a return to the moon more likely, in the medium-to-long term it is more likely to represent an increased Asian interest in current moon memorabilia.

At Paul Fraser Collectibles we currently have three superb pieces of space memorabilia available: Not one but two signed photos of the Apollo 11 crew, and best of all Michael Collins's flight suit from the Apollo 11 mission.


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