Citadel professor: Water on moon opens up 'new branch of science'

CHARLESTON - NASA's announcement Friday that it found evidence of water on the moon raises exciting prospects for further lunar exploration, said a Citadel expert who helped create the mission.

"We've got more (water) than we thought, maybe a lot more than we thought, so we're really quite excited about that," said Luke Sollitt, assistant professor of physics.

The big question to answer next is how water is distributed on the moon.

Sollitt said he envisioned sending an unmanned lunar rover to dig in the soil for better data on how much water is there. "We have a whole new branch of science that we can start to explore," he said.

Astronauts could use water on the moon for survival in space and to make rocket fuel at a lunar base, he said.

Sollitt became part of the effort to look for moon water while a he was a scientist at Northrop Grumman Corp. He was a member of the team that came up with the $79 million project concept.

Meanwhile, Citadel graduate and astronaut Marine Lt. Col. Randy Bresnik will be aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis for its scheduled liftoff at 2:28 p.m. Monday. It can be viewed live online at NASA TV. Bresnik is believed to be the first Citadel graduate to become an astronaut and go on a space mission.

Bresnik, a member of the Class of 1989, and other mission crew members are at Kennedy Space Center in Florida engaged in pre-launch activities.

Beginning today, The Citadel Office of External Affairs will provide updates of the launch activities. The college's countdown clock appears on the Citadel home page, and updates and background information about Bresnik and his first trip into space can be found at www.citadel.edu/atlantis/.