We Just Confirmed the Existence of Water Ice on the Moon

Tuesday, 21 August 2018 - 11:24AM
Space
NASA
Moon
Tuesday, 21 August 2018 - 11:24AM
We Just Confirmed the Existence of Water Ice on the Moon
< >
Image Credit: Pixabay
Scientists have speculated about the existence of water (especially ice) on Earth's Moon for years, and recent studies of meteorites suggested that H2O might be lurking somewhere in the lunar poles.  Now, however, we have confirmation: the Moon's north and south poles are speckled with water ice, and it may be very, very old.



According to the NASA press release, the ice was found by NASA's M3 instrument, whose full name is the 'Moon Mineralogy Mapper.' NASA states that M3 "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." M3 is stationed aboard Chandrayaan-1, India's first lunar probe.

The regions M3 spotted the ice are extremely cold, never rising about -250 degrees Fahrenheit (-156.6º C). In addition, the ice lies in the shadow of lunar craters, shielded from the Sun by the tilt of the Moon, ensuring sunlight never melts it. This has led NASA scientists to speculate that the ice may be ancient, rather than something seasonal. One can only speculate as to its depths or what may lie beneath its crystalline surface.

The discovery is especially promising when it comes to the future of lunar colonization—according to NASA, "With enough ice sitting at the surface—within the top few millimeters—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."

China has already announced plans for a robot base on the Moon, and the private company ispace has proposed creating a Moon-Earth ecosystem that involves the founding of a "space city" (which also involves robots). As for human habitation, the discovery of water is a huge step forward, though we still need to understand where it came from and whether it can be safely used by humans.


Science
Science News
Space
NASA
Moon
No