By David Kittredge
NASA scientists have just revealed that they think there is up to 15,000 square miles of water on the surface of the moon. The astrobiologists claim that this amount of H2O could provide enough oxygen, hydration and rocket fuel to support human colonization on our neighboring orb.
These astrobiologists are probably stumbling over themselves while lining up to hitch a ride on the next mission to the moon, while at the same time Elon Musk’s phone is being barraged with calls from these exuberant exobiologists. Astrobiology, otherwise known as exobiology, is the optimistic study, perhaps an overly optimistic study of extraterrestrial life in the universe. This relatively new field of study is offered as a major in a number of universities across our planet. In order for this scientific discipline to flourish, astrobiologists must be able to prove that life sustaining water exists beyond our home planet. In 2015, these scientists claimed that liquid water was evidenced on the planet Mars, deduced from photos of what seem to be chasms cut by rivers of water that flow intermittently, very intermittently I suspect, across the planet’s terrain. As opposed to being “hands on,” these researchers are definitely “hands off” due to their Earthly constraints.
These newly “discovered” water samples on our lunar neighbor are supposed to be encapsulated in glass on the dark side of the moon or in any shaded area. Sunlit areas of the moon can reach 260 degrees Fahrenheit and the shaded areas can get as cold as a minus 280 degrees Fahrenheit. In layman’s terms that would be about 3,015 popsicles, give or take.
So suppose an expedition is launched to the moon to study and discern whether or not water is stored on the orb and, gadzooks! these celestial life seekers do find water on the Moon? Let’s examine a few potential scenarios that might transpire.
When our intrepid scientists are able to reach the moon again safely, they set up a colony with housing and research facilities. They then manage to travel to the shadowy areas of the Moon, to actually find the much prized elixir of life and return with the harvested samples of glass encased liquid. On the return trip to the laboratory, their find would have to be protected from the excessive heat of the searing sunlight, protecting the capsules of water by depositing them into their nifty “Igloo” lunar lunch boxes. Upon reaching their home base, the group of overly zealous scientists might just decide to celebrate with a few rounds of drinks while noshing on appetizers of salty chips and pretzels when some slightly inebriated cosmonaut, probably named Cosmo, suddenly yells out, “These pretzels are making me thirsty!” He then accidentally drops one of the newfound ultra-cold, glass encased lunar water ice cubes into his mimosa, causing the glass capsule to crack due to the temperature differential between the alien sample and his drink. Then voila, potential previously frozen microorganisms lurking in the Moon water are thawed, then ingested, using his body like a well fertilized plant pot after which Cosmo ends up with creeping extraterrestrial tendrils emerging from every orifice of his body.
You see, the problem when one life form, in this case us, along with our bodily bacteria and fungi, enter the environs of another world, panspermia, the unintended contact with alien microorganisms, will undoubtedly occur. When panspermia transpires, the Halloween horror show begins, as disparate life forms intermingle. Before you know it, us humans end up looking like overly boiled mounds of writhing spinach, after the initial emergence of the creeping tendrils.
You might recall that a few months ago I wrote about an Israeli lunar lander crashing onto the surface of the moon on April 11, 2019. The lunar lander was carrying human DNA and de-hydrated Earthly creatures call tardigrades. Tardigrades are known for their ability to live in extreme environments, such as temperatures ranging from a minus 328 degrees Fahrenheit to 300 degrees Fahrenheit on the hot side of the scale. They can survive extreme radiation, extreme pressure (six times that of our deepest oceans) and can even survive in the vacuum of space. This is why the Israelis sent the tardigrades or water bears to the Moon in a de-hydrated form, as its not ethical to seed another planet with alien life. In my previous column I posed a situation where an ice laden comet might strike the Moon, introducing life giving water into the mix of dried tardigrades and human DNA setting up the possibility of creating a new life form. Well, shiver me timbers, the chances of the tardigrades and human DNA morphing into troglodytes has become an even greater possibility with life giving water already present on the Moon.
Who knows, our H2O-seeking astrobiologists might one day be welcomed to their new lunar home by denizens eager to host a dinner party and I’ll leave it up to you to guess what’s on the menu.
The moral of this story: Don’t cry over spilled tardigrades, but I wouldn’t touch the Moon with a ten foot troglodyte prod.