Deep and shadowed Shackleton Crater, near the moon’s south pole, is one location where deposits of water ice have been found. This ice is of interest to scientists and potentially useful to future moon explorers. Image via NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Leonard David’s Inside Outer Space.
We tend to think of the moon as a dusty, bone-dry place, and for the most part, that is true. But the moon does have ice, in particular at the south pole, hidden in shadowed craters. Just how the ice got there has been a bit of a mystery, but now a new study suggests it may have various sources, both ancient and more recent.
The new peer-reviewed findings were published in Icarus on September 30, 2019.
This water ice has much value, both to scientists and future human explorers. According to Ariel Deutsch, lead author of the study and a graduate student at Brown University:
The ages of these deposits can potentially tell us something about the origin of the ice, which helps us understand the sources and distribution of water in the inner solar system. For exploration purposes, we need to understand the lateral and vertical distributions of these deposits to figure out ...