NASA has announced that testing of data gathered during the recent LCROSS mission indicates that there is water on the Moon in far greater abundance than was previously suspected. The results suggest that the Moon is not a dessicated wasteland and may have at least some of the materials necessary to support a lunar base. Scientists also are hopeful that the material being analyzed, which comes from a supercold, permanently shadowed region of the Moon, may also provide useful information about the development of the solar system.
The whole idea for the LCROSS mission is pretty cool — send machinery hurtling across the void of space, then smash part of a rocket into a darkened crater, kick up a plume of material due to the impact, and collect data about the substances in the plume and analyze it. It is a good example of how NASA has come up with inventive ways of conducting meaningful scientific missions at less cost. In this case, the mission literally gave a lot of bang for the buck.