The water that supports life on Earth may have been on the planet much earlier than scientists previously thought, new research suggests.
While the environmental conditions in Earth's early years made it impossible for water to remain on the planet's surface, scientists have found evidence that the ingredients for water were protectively stored inside rocky bodies near our planet — and maybe inside Earth itself. The new findings suggest that there was water in the inner solar system 135 million years earlier than previous evidence had shown.
Space agency scientists are developing two separate mission concepts to assess, and learn how to exploit, stores of water ice on the moon and other lunar resources. The projects — called Lunar Flashlight and the ResourceProspector Mission — are notionally targeted to blast off in 2017 and 2018, respectively, and aim to help humanity extend its footprint out into the solar system.