After a rollercoaster year for NASA, it looks like Congress isn't quite done tinkering with the space agency's future. A return to the moon is back on the table after a Florida congressman introduced a moon-centric bill in the House of Representatives, which he's calling the "Reasserting American Leadership in Space Act," or the REAL Space Act. Really.
Would-be moon miners will need good lawyers if they want to keep the lunar resources they’re harvesting, according to space policy experts. The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 appears to permit extraction of lunar water and other resources, but it’s not clear who would own the materials once they’re extracted.
It’s been a great day for interplanetary H2O. First we hear that Mars was once covered in a massive, deep ocean. Now scientists at the Carnegie Institution's Geophysical Laboratory are reporting that the moon may harbor 100 times more water than previously thought.
Last month, scientists confirmed the widespread presence of small amounts of water on the moon. This landmark finding was followed by NASA's crashing its LCROSS probe into a crater in the lunar south pole, generating data which is currently being analyzed to determine the extent of water present around the impact site. Water extracted from the lunar soil could be used to sustain life and to generate rocket propellant. PopSci.com spoke to Ed Ethridge of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, who has been studying how microwaves could be used to extract water from lunar soil.