Water on the Moon

Dossier ~ Wednesday 25th November 2009
Explorers on the Moon (1954) - Page 37]

There is water on the Moon! Since 1954, the year in which the original French edition of Explorers on the Moon was first published, Tintin's friends have been aware of this reality, but it would take more than half a century for scientists to confirm the little reporter's discovery.

Bombarding the Moon!

The latest news from space: NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) has announced that they have proof of the existence of large quantities of frozen water on the Moon. Anthony Colaprete, principal scientific investigator of the LCROSS (Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite) mission confirmed the facts on 13 November 2009: "Indeed, yes, we found water. And we didn't just find a little bit, we found a significant amount." Colaprete went on to say that at least 25 gallons (95 litres) of water were recorded. But how was the NASA scientist able to make such a resolute assertion? His comments were based on observations made when the top stage of the Centaur rocket intentionally slammed into the Cabeus crater, located in the south area of the hidden side of the Moon.

Revealed after billions of years

As it made impact with the Moon, the NASA spacecraft stirred up a cloud of dust more than one-and-a-half kilometres high. Lunar particles were thrown up into the sunlight for the first time in billions of years. Thanks to this exposure to light, the LCROSS probe was able to monitor the dust cloud closely. Through studying the interaction between light and the particles using a spectrometer, NASA was able to confirm, once and for all, the presence of significant amounts of water on the Moon. Ever since the first Apollo Moon landings, fragments of rock picked up by astronauts have tested negative for water. Nevertheless, observations made by satellites and ultra-sophisticated telescopes have led people to believe that lunar ice could exist, just as Hergé portrayed in Explorers on the Moon.

What is so important about water?

Why is this discovery so important? According to accepted scientific theory, water is the key ingredient to life  -  life as we know it in any case. This theory is reinforced by other recent hypotheses, some of which are still to be verified. Regarding the origins of water, one theory posits that it is extra-terrestrial, or at least that the ingredients  -  the Hydrogen and Oxygen atoms that make up H2O  -  come from space. From this perspective, water is an import from outer space! Wherever there is water, there is hope of life. Water is our friend, despite the reservations Captain Haddock may have about this assertion!

Professor Calculus' rocket was already kicking up Moon dust in the 1950s!
Explorers on the Moon p.3
The Crab with the Golden Claws p.62
Flight 714 p.59
The Crab with the Golden Claws p.28
Explorers on the Moon p.37

Different life forms

When we talk about "life", we usually imagine life forms more or less similar to our own. While extra-terrestrials may be green and have large heads, three arms, six legs and an eye in the middle of the forehead, in general they are conceived of in terms of archetypal human features. Yet it seems that our appearance may be the result of chance. According to English scientist Richard Dawkins, our most distant ancestors came from the sea. These ancient relatives began to adapt to the Earth's atmosphere (a unique environment which doesn't exist on any other planet on our solar system), and then evolved to create the plethora of living creatures we see today, of which man is only one among many.

Treat water with respect!

Animals that live on land generally have a head, a torso and four legs  -  even the dinosaurs stuck to this rule! From this basic structure, different species have developed in their own ways. It is worth noting that this theory of evolution implicitly rejects all forms of racism, as it posits that all creatures  -  human beings and animals  -  share a common ancestor. Water plays a key role in evolution, as well as in the survival of life as we know it. Water supplies are not inexhaustible, notably on a planet on which the human population is rocketing forward to the 10 billion mark, meaning a perpetual increase in water consumption. It is our duty to preserve and respect water supplies.

A water crisis?

The advice we are getting these days about economising on consumption and respecting our water supplies should be followed. While water is indispensable to life, it can also become a deadly poison if polluted. Industrialised nations are already wasting huge quantities of water and creating vast amounts of pollution with devastating consequences. This is one of the reasons why the discovery of water on other planets is of such importance. Some people imagine that in the distant future, we may even import water to Earth! One thing is for certain: following extensive research into scientific sources such as the books of his friend Bernard Heuvelmans, Hergé revealed the presence of water on the Moon, more than 50 years before NASA!

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