Could Moon-aged drinking water refresh astronauts?

Image: malith d karunarathne on Unsplash

Water ice exists on the moon and it could be the used as drinking water for astronauts, say the authors of a new study published in The Planetary Science Journal.

The research looks at simulations of the Moon going back billions of years. According to their models, the Moon experiences a massive volcanic eruption roughly every 22,000 years, covering its surface in pools of lava.

“They dwarf almost all of the eruptions on Earth,” said study co-author Paul Hayne, assistant professor at the Department of Astrophysical & Planetary Sciences and the Laboratory for Atmospheric & Space Physics at University of Colorado Boulder.

"It's possible that five or 10 meters below the surface, you have big sheets of ice."

Professor Paul Hayne, University of Colorado Boulder

The new research theorised that around 41% of the water from its volcanoes may have condensed onto the Moon as ice.

At present astronauts living and working 400km above our planet drink water recycled from their colleagues' sweat and exhaled breath. These latest findings could indicate a potential water source for astronauts who need water to drink and process into rocket fuel, said Hayne.

However, it may not be easily accessible to astronauts hoping to tap into a well of water, as the authors believe it may be buried under many feet of lunar dust known as regolith. One more reason, Hayne said, for people or robots to head back and start digging.

"We really need to drill down and look for it," he said.