"Back in 2009, as part of the LCROSS mission, researchers allowed an empty stage of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) launch vehicle to crash into the floor of a crater close to the moon's south pole. Testing of the debris cloud by sensors aboard the Shepherding Spacecraft, showed evidence of water and ice, along with other material.
The researchers with this new effort believed it was likely that there was more ice on the moon than was shown during the LCROSS impact study—likely existing in shadowed craters similar to those that had been seen on Mercury. To find out, they carried out a parallel crater study, similar to the one they had conducted for Mercury. In this case, they studied 12,000 craters on the moon using data from the LRO. They report that they found "a similar morphological trend" in craters on the south side of the Moon, near the pole. They suggest this indicates that such craters likely harbor thick ice deposits along with other materials similar to those that are believed to exist on Mercury. The researchers suggest that if this is indeed the case, then there could be up to 100 million metric tons of ice in such craters, which they note is double the amount of previous estimates based on data from the LCROSS impact study. The researchers conclude by suggesting that future Moon missions include the use of probes that can be used to study the shaded craters to confirm their suspicions." phys.org
This is a biggy. Water is the stuff of life and the presence of this much water on the surface of the moon along with the presence of natural tunnels and caves will make it much easier to establish outposts on the moon.
Why do it? Think mining of rare earths and other precious materials. pl