For a long time the moon was thought to be as dry as dust. Now for the first time researchers have discovered direct evidence of water ice on the moon outside the permanent shadow of the lunar poles. The ice is spread over the entire surface of the bottoms of eternally dark craters. With the help of NASA’s SOFIA telescope and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), researchers specifically searched the lunar surface for places where sunlight never penetrates, most notably the numerous impact craters. They came up with a total surface area of 40,000 square kilometres of such cold traps where water ice could be preserved. Interestingly, the scientists found evidence of numerous water molecules particularly in the Clavius crater in the south of the moon. In Arthur C. Clark's famous novel 2001 - A Space Odyssey, filmed in 1968 by Stanley Kubrick, the iconic moon base is located in the Clavius crater. Clark's vision of a permanent human presence and infrastructure on the Earth's satellite, which also serves as a base for the exploration of our solar system, will now actually become reality. In the middle of this decade humans will set foot on the moon again, and with the help of the lunar orbital platform Gateway a permanently crewed research base will be established. The moon will be made habitable and its resources exploitable. Crucial for this project is the presence of frozen water on the lunar surface. Astronauts (or robots) could mine, melt and store this ice. The resultant water could then be split, using electricity, into liquid oxygen and hydrogen - an important oxidizer and fuel for rockets.
The artwork "moon water" visualizes the discovery of water ice in the dark depths of lunar craters. The high-resolution Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) photographed the more than 20,000 lunar craters, potential cold traps for water ice. The individual images were assembled into a crater mosaic. This mosaic was then collaged with the close-up of an ice wall from a terrestrial glacier. The palimpsest-like layering allows ice and crater elements to stand out to varying degrees. The tension of the work lies in the relationship between proximity and distance, the change of perspective between micro- and macrostructure. When viewed from a distance, all the picture elements are equally divided into a pixel-like grid structure that emphasizes the abstract composition of form and colour. However, as viewers approach the work, they catch sight of each of the more than 20,000 craters on the lunar surface and the fine structure of the water ice. Stanley Kubrick's Clavius base is incorporated in the centre of the composition. The image concept also reflects our relationship with the Earth's satellite. If in the last decades the moon appeared to us as a familiar but distant world in the night sky, we are now fast approaching the time of a permanent human presence on the moon.