It’s Cold Out There (but Icy!)
People have long suspected that there’s ice at the poles of the Moon. Data taken when a probe crashed into the lunar south pole some years ago showed tantalizing evidence that it was there. Other studies have also hinted at the presence of ice at the poles. Now, scientists have observed direct evidence of icy deposits in shadowed regions in craters. It could be very ancient ice, perhaps left behind after comet impacts in the distant past.
So how do scientists who study the Moon know this?
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory researchers working on a spacecraft instrument team found very specific signatures of ice in data from their M3 instrument that is mounted on India’s Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft. M3 stands for “Moon Mineralogy Mapper”. It detected reflections from ice and the data showed that molecules in the material that was doing the reflecting are typical of water ice.
Ice can survive on the Moon at these polar regions because it is protected from direct sunlight by surface rocks in the crater rims where the ices lie. The temperatures are very cold there, never getting much higher than -250 F (-156.7 C).
Implications of Ice on ...