NASA confirms that there is water on the moon and more than previously thought

The presence of hidden water sacs could be on the surface of the much more common moon as scientists would have suspected, according to new research published in Boulder University of Colorado “Natural Astronomy”. In some cases, these tiny patches of ice can be present in permanent shadows no larger than a coin.

“If you could stand on the moon’s surface near one of its poles, you’d see shadows everywhere,” explains Paul Hayne, assistant professor in the Laboratory of Atmospheric and Space Physics at Boulder University. Many of these little shadows could be filled with ice.

In his study Hayne and his colleagues studied phenomena on the moon called “cold traps”.gloomy regions of the surface that exist in a state of eternal darkness. Many have not had a single ray of sunshine for billions of years. And these nooks and crannies can be far more numerous than the data above suggests.

Based on detailed data from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, the researchers estimate that the moon could roughly accommodate 25,000 square kilometers of permanent shade in various shapes and sizesDeposits that, according to the theory, could also be capable of Save water by using ice.

“If we’re right, the water will be more accessible for drinking, rocket fuel, and anything NASA would need,” says Hayne, also with the Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences.

To understand these cold traps, one has to look at Shackleton Crater near the south pole of the moon. This huge impact crater is several kilometers deep and more than 20 kilometers wide. Due to the position of the moon in relation to the sun, much of the interior of the crater is permanently in shadow, a complete lack of direct sunlight, as a result of which the internal temperatures fluctuate by minus 15 degrees.

25,000 square kilometers

“You are looking at Shackleton Crater or the Shoemaker’s Crater, you are looking at this huge, dark, inaccessible region,” describes Hayne. It’s very impressive “.

However, this imposing nature can also be the key to the importance of these craters for planned lunar bases. Scientists have long believed that such cold traps could be ideal environments for storing ice, a valuable resource that is scarce on the moon but is occasionally supplied in large quantities when comets or water-rich asteroids crash.

“The temperatures in the cold traps are so low that the ice acts like a stone,” explains Hayne. If the water gets in there, it won’t go anywhere for a billion years. ‘

However, in their latest research, Hayne and his colleagues wanted to know how common these traps could be if only they existed in large craters or spread across the face of the moon. To find out, the team extracted data from real-life observations of the satellite and then used mathematical tools to recreate what its surface would look like on a very small scale. The answer: a bit like a golf ball.

According to the team’s calculations, the north and south poles of the moon could contain a large number of bumps that can contain permanent shadows, many of which are only an inch wide. Previous estimates put the area of ​​the cold traps on the moon in excess of 11,000 square kilometers, about half of what Hayne and his colleagues had predicted.

Hayne notes that his team cannot prove that these shadows actually contain ice packs. The only way to do this would be to go there in person or on Boy Scout vehicles and dig. But the results are promising and future missions could literally shed even more light on the moon’s water resources.

For example, Hayne is leading a NASA contract called the Lunar Compact Infrared Imaging System (L-CIRiS), which will take heat-sensitive panoramic images of the moon’s surface near the South Pole in 2022, confirming it is possible to find the ingredients for a hot shower on the Moon has become much easier.

“Astronauts may not have to step into those deep, dark shadows,” says Hayne. You could run around and find one that’s three feet wide and probably has ice. ‘

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