Astronomers Directly Observe Evidence Of Water Ice On Moon For The First Time

Posted: Aug 21 2018, 11:54am CDT | by , Updated: Aug 21 2018, 12:25pm CDT, in Latest Science News


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Astronomers Directly Observe Evidence of Water Ice on Moon for the First Time
The image shows the distribution of surface ice at the Moon's south pole (left) and north pole (right). Credit: NASA

New study says that most of the newfound water ice lies in the shadows of craters near the lunar poles

Researchers have finally found the first definitive evidence of water ice on Moon’s surface.

Using NASA's Moon Mineralogy Mapper instrument, a research team has identified three specific signatures of water ice on both north and south poles. At moon’s north pole, most of the ice exist in darkest and coldest locations or inside the lunar craters, while ice on northern pole appears to be patchy and thin. Researchers suggest that ice deposits on both poles could possibly be ancient.

Scientists have long assumed that moon contains water ice on its surface, but detecting ice deposits on moon turned out to be challenging. In 2008, analysis of Apollo lunar samples found traces of water and a related chemical molecule hydroxyl in lunar soil. When NASA launched Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) in 2009, it also detected hydrogen-rich areas near the moon's poles. Later, LRO identified some very bright and cold cold areas in craters near the south pole of the moon, suggesting that water ice may be present on moon’s surface as frost. However, the exact location of water on lunar surface was a big question – until now.

An analysis of new data taken from NASA's Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3), which flew aboard India's Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft, showed that most of the lunar water ice lie in the shadows of craters near the poles. These are permanently dark areas where sunlight never reaches and temperatures remain below minus 260 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the first time researchers have made direct detection of water ice on the Moon's surface.

“M3, aboard the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft, launched in 2008 by the Indian Space Research Organization, was uniquely equipped to confirm the presence of solid ice on the Moon. It collected data that not only picked up the reflective properties we'd expect from ice, but was able to directly measure the distinctive way its molecules absorb infrared light, so it can differentiate between liquid water or vapor and solid ice.” NASA statement reads.

The discovery could help researchers understand how easy it would be to use the lunar water ice as a resource. As moon has enough ice on its surface, it is reasonably easy to access and could be used as drinking water or fueling rockets if converted it into hydrogen and oxygen.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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