Hidden from direct sunlight lunar craters, located in the cold polar regions of our natural satellite, there are reserves of water ice. Future lunar colonists will be able to use it for the maintenance of the lunar settlements. The final confirmation of ice on the moon according to an article published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Data on the presence of ice on the moon was collected using the developed aerospace Agency NASA’s mineral mapper the Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) installed on the Indian satellite “Chandrayaan-1”. Data analysis was carried out by scientists from brown University, University of Hawaii, University of Colorado at boulder, University of California, Johns Hopkins University, and experts from the Ames Research center (NASA).
That on the moon there is a hidden shadow “pockets” of ice, the so-called “cold traps” that are protected from the direct rays of sunlight, astronomers suspect for a long time. Previous data obtained from lunar orbiting spacecraft indicated the possibility. However, NASA noted that it was “the first time scientists have managed to produce a convincing and direct evidence of its existence”.
Probe “Chandrayaan-1” India’s space Agency (ISRO) was launched to the moon in 2008. Its main purpose was to find confirmation of the presence of solid ice on the surface of the moon. An article from the journal PNAS reports that the M3 scientific instrument probe developed by NASA, is still able to determine inherent to ice’s reflective properties on the surface of the moon. In addition, the device was also able to determine directly the specific way molecules of ice absorbs infrared radiation, which allows to distinguish between water in liquid or gaseous state and solid ice.
“Most of the ice is shaded craters near the poles, where the temperature does not rise above -250 degrees Fahrenheit (-156,5 degrees Celsius). The sunlight never goes into these parts of the surface due to the small inclination of the rotation axis of the moon”, say the researchers who conducted the analysis of the data.
Map of North and South poles of the moon, which shown the zone of presence of water ice
The researchers also noted that most of the discovered ice reserves are mainly concentrated at the South pole of the moon, and the North pole, these stocks are much smaller. The probe failed to determine at what depth is the ice, but the study says that the moon’s surface, hidden in the shadow of the polar regions may contain up to about 3.5 percent of the inventory of all the ice present on the moon.
According to scientists, before relying on these reserves of ice in the framework of the missions to colonize the satellite, we need to send several Autonomous Rovers and find out the real volume of reserves and their location on the surface or under it.
The presence of ice on the moon means not only availability of drinking water source for future colonists of the satellite. It also means the possibility of recycling water in the fuel. We split the water atoms and having its oxygen and hydrogen, future residents of the moon will be able to engage in the production of fuel that can be used for further conquest of the Solar system.