Today’s announcement that there is water on the moon came as no surprise to Citadel professor Luke Sollitt. He’s on NASA’s science team that made this all happen. He says they have already learned more than they expected.
“One of the big benefits,” says Sollitt, “is that in finding water on the moon, if this stuff is cometary,this can tell us a lot about the impact history of the solar system. This gives us sort of an average of cometary water ice over the last couple of billion years.”
The NASA LCROSS project (Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite) crashed an empty rocket hull into a lunar crater, which was followed by a scientific spacecraft to study the exposed area. Sollitt says the scientists studied the dust created by the crash created.
“We see a bunch of absorption features. Now the absorption features area bit like a fingerprint for various molecules or compounds and we have found the tell-tale signature of water ice or water in the infrared spectrum,” Sollitt explains.
Sollitt, a physics instructor at the Citadel,is the only South Carolinian on the NASA LCROSS science team. He was one of those the original idea for this NASA mission, when he worked for Northrop Grumman. He says, even with finding more water than they expected, the science team still has lots of work ahead.
“We have to determine exactly what we think the sources are for this stuff. I think it is early yet to speculate exactly what this is going to tell us about the history of the moon. I hope that maybe in a few years we’ll be able to say something about what this water on the moon tells us about that.”
After today’s revelation, another co-investigator on NASA’s L-Cross mission said: “We’ve had hints that there is water. This was almost like tasting it.”