The Moon mission gets a boost with the discovery of water at both the north and south poles. This was detected by India's Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft and confirmed by NASA. The precious commodity is in the form of ice but it is not distributed in a uniform manner. At the south pole, most of it is concentrated in craters while at the north pole, it is sparse and scattered.

The BBC reports that the instrument aboard Chandrayaan-1 had zeroed on three specific signatures of water-ice at the lunar surface. These were the reflective properties associated with ice apart from the distinctive way of how its molecules absorbed infrared light.

These helped to differentiate between the three forms of water namely, liquid water, water vapor and solid ice.

NASA is upbeat about the water-ice

The possibilities of finding water in liquid form on the Moon are remote because of the daytime temperatures being in the region of 100C. However, due to the axial tilt, some areas at the poles remain invariably in the darkness where there are deposits of ice.

Scientists believe that temperatures in such areas are favorable for such deposits to remain stable for long periods. In case, the ice is close to the surface, it can be a treated as a positive sign for planning future missions to the Moon. It could be processed to generate water to meet the needs of astronauts or split into hydrogen and oxygen for use as rocket fuel.

Of course, the decision will depend on the amount of water-ice available which can be established only after more dedicated missions.

Water-ice could sustain long-term Moon missions

According to NBC News, officials at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory have said that a definitive proof of the presence of water-ice on the Moon will pave the way "to explore and even stay on the moon." The ready availability of water will open the doors to a new line of thinking regarding the colonization of planets.

Details of the discovery have been recently published and the credit goes to a team of scientists at the University of Hawaii's Institute of Geophysics and Planetology. They had analyzed the data captured by an instrument that NASA had put onboard the Indian spacecraft Chandrayaan-1.

This discovery is expected to have far-reaching implications. It will not only help to sustain lunar missions but will also contribute to missions to the Red Planet Mars. In the opinion of Philip Metzger, a planetary scientist at the University of Central Florida "it will make Mars missions more affordable for SpaceX and for NASA."