Nasa scientists have found evidence of water on the moon in quantities potentially far larger than previously thought, the space agency has announced.
Lunar experts said they were “ecstatic” with the results of an experiment that saw a rocket smash into the surface of earth's orbiting satellite.
The resulting plume threw up evidence suggesting that the moon is not the dry desolate place it was once thought to be.
The Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS as it is known, was fired into the lunar crust on October 9.
Its impact created a 1.6km high two-part plume from the bottom of the Cabeus crater. A high angle ejection consisting of vapour and fine dust was followed by a lower trajectory of heavier debris.
Materials unearthed in the impact had not seen sunlight in billions of years, Nasa scientists revealed.
Nasa has long speculated about the source of vast quantities of hydrogen observed at the lunar poles.
But examination of the LCROSS blast suggests water could be more widespread and in greater quantities than previously thought.
Scientists now believe that the discovery could help them understand further the history and evolution of the solar system.