Until now, scientists knew indirectly that there is lunar ice at the poles. Direct observations made by scientists from University of Hawaii, Brown University and NASA prove the existence of ice water on the Moon.
According to an article posted on the Jet Propulsion Laboratory website, a team of scientists has “directly observed definitive evidence” that the moon’s poles contain ice, adding that:
“Previous observations indirectly found possible signs of surface ice at the lunar south pole, but these could have been explained by other phenomena, such as unusually reflective lunar soil.”
The team of scientists was led by Shuai Li who collaborated with NASA’s Ames Research Center’s Richard Elphic. Together, they analyzed data from NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) instrument, looking for traces of water ice on the Moon’s surface.
They published their findings on August 20, 2018, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has built the M3. The mapper was on board of the Indian Space Research Organization’s Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft, which was launched in 2008. The instrument’s goal was to confirm if there is solid ice on the Moon.
The data from M3 shows the reflective properties of ice and it also measured the way the ice molecules absorbed infrared light, showing the difference between liquid water, vapor or solid ice.
The JPL article explains that the ice forms at the craters close to the poles, in their shadows – because sunlight never reaches that area, and the temperature is under 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
A Resource For Future Expeditions
The discovery proves that there is ice on the Moon’s surface, and NASA explains that the water “would possibly be accessible as a resource for future expeditions to explore and even stay on the Moon, and potentially easier to access than the water detected beneath the Moon’s surface.”
NASA officials concluded that their next missions would focus on learning more about the lunar ice and how it got there “and how it interacts with the larger lunar environment” – missions which will fit right with their plans on returning and exploring the Moon.
Doris’s passion for writing started to take shape in college where she was editor-in-chief of the college newspaper. Even though she ended up working in IT for more than 7 years, she’s now back to what he always enjoyed doing. With a true passion for technology, Doris mostly covers tech-related topics.