Mini-SAR map of the Circular Polarization Ratio (CPR) of the north pole of the Moon. Fresh, “normal” craters (red circles) show high values of CPR inside and outside their rims. This is consistent with the distribution of rocks and ejected blocks around fresh impact features, indicating that the high CPR here is surface scattering. The “anomalous” craters (green circles) have high CPR within, but not outside their rims.

After discovering water on the Moon (thanks in part to India’s satellite), it looks like scientists have discovered large quantities of ice water in the lunar north pole.

Using data from a NASA radar that flew aboard India’s Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft, scientists have detected ice deposits near the moon’s north pole. NASA’s Mini-SAR instrument, a lightweight, synthetic aperture radar, found more than 40 small craters with water ice. The craters range in size from 1 to 9 miles (2 to15 km) in diameter. Although the total amount of ice depends on its thickness in each crater, it’s estimated there could be at least 1.3 trillion pounds (600 million metric tons) of water ice. […]

Numerous craters near the poles of the Moon have interiors that are in permanent sun shadow.  These areas are very cold and water ice is stable there essentially indefinitely.  Fresh craters show high degrees of surface roughness (high CPR) both inside and outside the crater rim, caused by sharp rocks and block fields that are distributed over the entire crater area.  However, Mini-SAR has found craters near the north pole that have high CPR inside, but not outside their rims.  This relation suggests that the high CPR is not caused by roughness, but by some material that is restricted within the interiors of these craters.  We interpret this relation as consistent with water ice present in these craters.  The ice must be relatively pure and at least a couple of meters thick to give this signature. (NASA)

Although it was known for quite some time that the Moon did possess large quantities of water near the north pole, it was unclear as to how much until now.

The large amount of water ice should make it relatively easy for astronauts to establish outposts upon the lunar surface without heavily depending on Earth for water and supplies.

Future settlers can also use the water to make rocket fuel, which will help humanity in their quest to conquer our star system.

Despite the fact that Congress still debating over how we will get to the Moon (or rather whether partnering with the private sector is a good idea), it’s only a matter of time before humanity revisits and settles upon Earth’s nearest neighbor.

(via Universe Today)

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