Skip to navigationSkip to content
A footprint left by one of the astronauts of the Apollo 11 mission shows in the soft, powder surface of the moon on July 20, 1969. Commander Neil A. Armstrong and Air Force Col. Edwin E. "Buzz" Aldrin Jr. became the first men to walk on the moon after blastoff from Cape Kennedy, Fla., on July 16, 1969. They headed back home from the lunar surface on July 21, 1969. The end of man's first voyage to another planet ended with a splashdown 950 miles southwest of Hawaii, thus achieving President John F.Kennedy's challenge to land men on the moon before the end of the 1960s.
AP Photo/NASA
Ground truth.
THE NEW GOLD RUSH

This is the most valuable real estate on the moon

Member exclusive by Tim Fernholz for Back to the moon

Location, location, location. It’s the dogma for every real estate agent, and it’s equally true on the moon.

The discovery of water on the moon—and how that could help humanity’s exploration of space—is what’s driving efforts to return to Earth’s satellite. But water isn’t everywhere on the moon; it’s only suspected to be in a few locations where concentrations are significant. And that could set up not just a scarcity problem, but the possibility for an innocent (or not so innocent) science experiment to trigger a colonial-style scramble for resources.

The best bet for big deposits of ice are the lunar poles, which receive less sunlight than the equatorial regions. There are deep craters that are never touched by the sun’s light at all, and remote sensing suggests that is where water is concentrated. The temperatures there are nearly -400 degrees F.

You are reading a Quartz member exclusive.

Become a member to keep reading this story and unlock unlimited access to all of Quartz.

Membership will also get you: