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Sunday, August 1, 1999 Published at 09:12 GMT 10:12 UK


Moore dismisses Moon water hopes

Kamikaze mission for Lunar Prospector

The leading British astronomer Patrick Moore has dismissed hopes of finding water on the Moon.

The BBC's Simon Jones reports on a blazing end to the mission
His comments come as scientists examine data from a lunar probe which was deliberately crashed into the Moon to try to reveal the presence of water.

Nasa had hoped the 4,000mph crash of Lunar Prospector into the Moon's south pole would result in a plume of water vapour.

Initial indications are that the cloud failed to materialise. But Nasa says it could be several days before any reliable information is available.

Sceptical Moore

[ image: Moore: Never believed in water on the Moon]
Moore: Never believed in water on the Moon
Pouring cold water on the project, Mr Moore said: "I never thought there would be water on the moon. I do not believe in lunar ice."

"I am happy to stick my neck out and say that there is no water there. There is hydrogen but no water.

"Prospector has done all it could and it has been a wonderful success but all the lunar rocks which have been brought back have not shown any signs of water."

The discovery of water on the Moon could open the way to future lunar exploration and even the establishment of a lunar base.

Results earlier this year from the Lunar Prospector indicated that there may be between 10m and 300m metric tonnes of water locked away in the polar permafrost of the north and south poles of the Moon.

The moon was thought to be completely dry until last year when a US Defence Department satellite found a small lake at the moon's southern pole that is 30 metres (100 feet) deep at its deepest point.

Water is both potentially life sustaining and an ideal source of rocket fuel.

Without water on the Moon, the cost of transporting these materials from Earth would make colonisation prohibitively expensive.

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