Confirmed for the first time: there’s ice on the surface of the Moon

Anyone who wants to stay on the Moon for a long time (for example, in their own base) will need water. It has been known for some time that water exists buried deep in the Moon’s rocks, but of course it would be easier to reach if it were directly on the surface. Using data from NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) instrument, a research team led by Shuai Li from the University of Hawaii and Brown University has now shown that water is just waiting to be collected from permanently shaded areas of craters in the Moon’s north and south poles.

M3 was launched on board the Indian Chandrayaan-1 probe in 2008. Most of the ice has been found at the poles in craters that never receive direct sunlight. There, temperatures never rise above 110 Kelvin (negative 163 degrees Celsius). Overall, however, the scientists found surprisingly little ice. These findings, they believe, are due to the fact that water-rich objects very rarely impact these areas. Existing ice deposits also might have been destroyed by polar wander.

This picture shows the distribution of water ice at the Moon’s south pole (left) and north pole (right). (picture: NASA)

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  • BrandonQMorris
  • Brandon Q. Morris es físico y especialista en el espacio. Lleva mucho tiempo preocupado por las cuestiones espaciales, tanto a nivel profesional como privado, y aunque quería ser astronauta, tuvo que quedarse en la Tierra por diversas razones. Le fascina especialmente el "qué pasaría si" y a través de sus libros pretende compartir historias convincentes de ciencia ficción dura que podrían suceder realmente, y que algún día podrían suceder. Morris es autor de varias novelas de ciencia ficción de gran éxito de ventas, como la serie Enceladus.

    Brandon es un orgulloso miembro de la Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America y de la Mars Society.