Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Moon’s polar craters could be the place to find lunar ice

18.12.2008
Scientists have discovered where they believe would be the best place to find ice on the moon.

Astrophysicists, led by an expert at Durham University, say if frozen water exists then it is most likely to be found near to the moon’s poles in craters that are permanently shaded from the sun.

Their findings are based on a new computer analysis of data from the Lunar Prospector, a space probe sent to the moon in 1998 by NASA. The researchers showed that hydrogen on the moon is concentrated into polar craters where temperatures are colder than minus 170 degrees Celsius.

Hydrogen, together with the oxygen that is abundant within moon rock, is a key element in making water.

If ice is present in the craters then the researchers say it could potentially provide a water source for the eventual establishment of a manned base on the moon. A moon base could be used as a platform for exploration into the further reaches of our solar system.

The findings are published in the International Journal of Solar System Studies, Icarus.

They show that if the hydrogen is present as water ice, then the average concentration in some craters corresponds to ten grams of ice in each kilogram of moon rock.

However the researchers say that instead of being water ice, hydrogen may be present in the form of protons fired from the sun into the dusty lunar surface.

Dr Vincent Eke, in the Institute for Computational Cosmology, at Durham University, said: “This research applies a newly developed technique to data from the Lunar Prospector mission to show that hydrogen is actually concentrated into the permanently shaded polar craters.

“Water ice should be stable for billions of years on the moon provided that it receives no sunlight.

“If the hydrogen is present as water ice then our results imply that the top metre of the moon holds about enough water to fill up Kielder Water.”

Kielder Water, in Northumberland, holds 200,000 million litres of water, making it the largest UK manmade reservoir in Northern Europe.

The research may be of immediate use in lunar exploration. Dr Richard Elphic, in the Planetary Systems Branch, NASA Ames Research Center, said: "These results will help NASA's soon-to-be launched Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) missions.

“For example, LCROSS aims to liberate water by impacting into permanently shadowed polar terrain where ice may exist, and our improved maps of hydrogen abundance can help LCROSS select a promising impact site.

“These maps will also help focus LRO's search for possible polar ice by identifying hydrogen-rich locales".

The research was led by Dr Eke together with colleagues from the University of Glasgow and the Planetary Systems Branch, Space Science and Astrobiology Division, of NASA Ames Research Center in California, USA.

The research was funded by a Royal Society University Research Fellowship, a Leverhulme Research Fellowship and the NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Participating Scientist Programme.

Leighton Kitson | alfa
Further information:
http://www.durham.ac.uk
http://www.royalsociety.org

Further reports about: LCROSS Moon’s polar craters NASA Orbiter Planetary Water frozen water lunar base lunar ice moon rock water ice

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Magnetic field traces gas and dust swirling around supermassive black hole
22.02.2018 | Royal Astronomical Society

nachricht UMass Amherst physicists contribute to dark matter detector success
22.02.2018 | University of Massachusetts at Amherst

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stiffness matters

22.02.2018 | Life Sciences

Magnetic field traces gas and dust swirling around supermassive black hole

22.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

First evidence of surprising ocean warming around Galápagos corals

22.02.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>