Friday, April 26, 2013

W is for Water in Outer Space

Water: Without it, we die. Real fast. So if we are to colonize the moon, Mars, asteroids, and beyond then we need to find ample sources of water. We as space travelers simply cannot lug it into space with us. 

We have to ask: How much water is in space? Where is it? Can we find and extract it at a cost that makes sense? And if there is water (in ice, vapor, or liquid form), will there also be life? 

Water forms when two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom get together. So theoretically, water can exist in abundant forms in outer space. 

"Two teams of astronomers have discovered the largest and farthest reservoir of water ever detected in the universe. The water, equivalent to 140 trillion times all the water in the world's ocean, surrounds a huge, feeding black hole, called a quasar, more than 12 billion light-years away."  

"The environment around this quasar is very unique in that it's producing this huge mass of water," said Matt Bradford, a scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "It's another demonstration that water is pervasive throughout the universe, even at the very earliest times. Reference 

But what about our solar system? Is there water close to home? Just take a look at this map of Our Watery Solar System. Planets, moons, asteroids, and dwarf planets are places that hold water to some degree. If the image is not clear, please click THIS LINK

So, just how the heck do we mine this water in our solar system? Sorry, but I'm out of room and out of time. But for now I wanted to present this concept of water in outer space and the possibilities we can exploit. How to mine it is a mini-series I will present shortly. Please stay tuned.