NASA crashed a lunar satellite under controlled conditions in an attempt to determine whether the Moon holds water ice. Many seem quite excited about the possibility and one has to admit that proving that water exists on the Moon is exciting from a purely scientific point of view, but otherwise I don’t exactly see what all the fuss is about.
There are serious talks about colonizing the Moon, so the presence of water on it would seem to greatly help when it comes to that… Only it doesn’t. Not really. There are plenty of other problems that need to be solved before something like this could be possible, such as protecting the colonists from radiation and impacts, providing them with air to breathe, food to eat and medical services. One could argue that having water on the Moon would at least get rid of one of those problems and give scientists more time to focus on the rest, but that may not even be the case. I could be wrong but, since systems to completely recycle the used water would need to be installed anyway, I think it’d be easier to send a sufficient quantity of water to the Moon at the start of the mission than to figure out a way to make use of any water ice that could be found there, especially considering the regions where it’s likely to exist.
Another argument could be that these finds could be used to help predict what could exist elsewhere in the universe, but I don’t think the Moon is too relevant when it comes to that. For one, it’s a satellite, and a barren and probably a rather unusual one at that, considering the way it formed. That means that whatever happens on it is quite different from what could happen on a planet, especially on one that could support advanced life. Secondly, it orbits the Earth and therefore is placed exactly within the habitable area of the Sun, which means it won’t help in determining how could a star support life outside its habitable area, such as on certain promising satellites that orbit its gas giants. Under these circumstances, not even finding fossilized or dormant traces of microscopic life on the Moon would be a major discovery, though any such find would need to be taken into consideration very seriously because microscopic life could very easily mean incurable disease.
Proving the existence of significant quantities of water on Mars would be very interesting, as would be starting to explore what’s hidden beneath Venus’ eternal clouds or proving the existence and starting to explore the vast ocean presumed to exist under Europa’s frozen surface. Exploring Pluto and any other dwarf planets is also very important, seeing as we know so little about them. Finding any traces of life on Mars, Venus or Europa would be a momentous discovery, as would be figuring out a way to travel quickly through space, especially interstellar space. And, at least in my opinion, finding out more about the planets that orbit other stars and looking for an atmosphere, liquid water and life, especially intelligent life, on them is by far the most important thing when it comes to space exploration. Whether some water ice exists on the Moon or not pales in comparison to any of these…