News & CommentPlanetary Science

Cheapest Mission Finds Moon's Frozen Water

Science  13 Mar 1998:
Vol. 279, Issue 5357, pp. 1628
DOI: 10.1126/science.279.5357.1628a

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Lunar Prospector, the cheapest of the NASA Discovery program's "faster, cheaper, better" missions, last week proved itself the equal of more costly spacecraft. After only a month in orbit, the $63 million, five-instrument spacecraft gathered the first definitive proof of water on the moon. Not only does the detection of water frozen near the lunar poles bolster hopes for eventual colonization of the moon, it strengthens claims that Mercury--innermost and hottest of the planets--has polar water, too.