The BBC has been told that data sent back from the Lunar Prospector space probe suggests there is water on the moon.
If this is right, then the presence of water-ice on the moon will transform the prospects for a manned lunar colony.
Confirmation of the discovery is expected from the Lunar Prospector team within weeks.
For decades, scientists have speculated that there could be up to a billion tonnes of ice buried deep in [lunar] craters, where sunlight never reaches. The data sent back from the probe seems to indicate that there is water and water-ice in deep fissures near the South Pole.
Lunar Prospector was launched on January 7, 1998 from Florida on an Athena rocket. The 12-month mission also involves mapping the lunar surface to determine its composition and its gravitational and magnetic fields.
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