PASADENA, Calif., July 22 (UPI) -- A manned lunar station could be closer to reality following the discovery of water trapped in lunar rocks on and below the surface, U.S. scientists say.
The discovery grew out of the study of rock samples returned from the moon by the Apollo 14 mission in 1971, The Daily Telegraph reported Wednesday.
Researchers found hydrogen in the form of hydroxide -- a close chemical relative of water -- in a mineral called apatite.
"If you heat up the apatite, the hydroxyl ions will 'decompose' and come out as water," Professor George Rossman of the California Institute of Technology said.
The findings show "robust evidence for the presence of water in the interior of the moon from where some lunar rocks were derived," researchers said.
Water on the moon could mean an occupied station on the moon becomes a more likely possibility.
Currently, maintaining such an outpost would very expensive -- it costs around $25,000 to take just one pint of water from Earth to the moon.
But if water locked in lunar rocks could be recovered, the idea of keeping people on the moon for long periods of time could move one step closer, the Daily Telegraph said.