Water ice found at the moon's poles, study says

For the first time, scientists have uncovered direct evidence of water ice on the surface of the moon's polar regions. And the ice itself could be ancient, according to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Posted: Aug 23, 2018 9:31 AM
Updated: Aug 23, 2018 9:34 AM

(CNN)For the first time, scientists have uncovered direct evidence of water ice on the surface of the moon's polar regions. And the ice itself could be ancient, according to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Scientists from the University of Hawaii and Brown University and Richard Elphic from NASA's Ames Research Center used data from NASA's Moon Mineralogy Mapper instrument to make the discovery. The instrument is on the Indian Space Research Organization's Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft, India's first lunar probe, which launched in 2008.

The instrument was designed to search for distinct signatures that prove the presence of water ice on the surface of the moon. This included gathering data that not only detected ice's reflective properties, but the way the molecules absorb infrared light -- which tells the difference between water and ice. The distribution of surface ice at the moon's south pole (left) and north pole (right). Blue represents the ice locations, plotted over an image of the lunar surface. Previous studies of the lunar poles suggested that ice could be present there, but the possible signs could have been explained due to other phenomenon as well.

The ice is in the darkest and coldest areas at the poles, in shadows of craters where sunlight never reaches due to the tilt of the moon's axis. The warmest temperatures in these areas don't go above negative-250 degrees Fahrenheit. At the southern pole, the ice can be found in craters. At the northern pole, the ice is widely spread, but more sparse. This odd distribution could mean that there is a low water supply rate, or imply that the ice itself is millions of years old with little accumulation since then.

"We found that the distribution of ice on the lunar surface is very patchy, which is very different from other planetary bodies such as Mercury and Ceres where the ice is relatively pure and abundant," Shuai Li, lead study author and postdoctoral researcher at the Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, said in a statement. "The spectral features of our detected ice suggest that they were formed by slow condensation from a vapor phase either due to impact or water migration from space."

Further observation and study could reveal more about the moon's evolution process as well. It's possible that this surface ice could be a water source for future moon mission, and easier to access than any water believed to be beneath the moon's surface.

"Given that the Moon is our nearest planetary neighbor, understanding the processes which led to water ice on the Moon provides clues to understand the origin of water on Earth and throughout the solar system," said Li. "A future Moon mission is needed to examine the whole lunar PSRs [permanently shaded regions] to map out all water ices and understand the processes which led to water on the Moon. This work provides a roadmap for future exploration of the Moon, particularly the potential of water ice as a resource."

Huntsville
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 64°
Florence
Clear
65° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 65°
Fayetteville
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 64°
Decatur
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 66°
Scottsboro
Few Clouds
73° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 73°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 153016

Reported Deaths: 2633
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson22400372
Mobile14282314
Tuscaloosa9983132
Montgomery9691196
Madison899992
Shelby703560
Lee643966
Baldwin637567
Marshall426748
Calhoun410259
Etowah402049
Morgan394532
Houston363132
DeKalb316727
Elmore309552
St. Clair279742
Limestone269227
Walker268092
Talladega255034
Cullman225823
Lauderdale206340
Autauga199928
Franklin199131
Jackson199114
Colbert190627
Russell19023
Dallas185227
Blount183823
Chilton180531
Escambia170928
Covington164729
Coffee16409
Dale162551
Pike130212
Chambers127343
Tallapoosa127286
Clarke126716
Marion104229
Butler99840
Barbour9819
Marengo96721
Winston89913
Geneva8337
Pickens80317
Randolph79514
Lawrence79230
Bibb78913
Hale74529
Cherokee71514
Clay70712
Lowndes69927
Bullock63517
Henry6316
Monroe6279
Washington62112
Crenshaw59030
Perry5796
Wilcox55712
Conecuh55413
Fayette54712
Macon52919
Cleburne5247
Sumter46421
Lamar4575
Choctaw38612
Greene33316
Coosa1963
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 232061

Reported Deaths: 2922
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby34370552
Davidson29801325
Knox1183387
Hamilton11097102
Rutherford11031106
Williamson661848
Sumner5636107
Wilson440253
Putnam411053
Montgomery385751
Out of TN379435
Unassigned37653
Madison361378
Bradley340821
Sullivan318844
Sevier314920
Blount310231
Washington308043
Maury307435
Robertson248539
Hamblen232743
Tipton219222
Gibson205437
Dyer202326
Hardeman178732
Coffee176020
Trousdale17407
Obion163617
Bedford159020
Dickson156218
Wayne15607
Greene155650
Anderson155513
Loudon154010
Fayette152022
McMinn150832
Cumberland148924
Lawrence146217
Jefferson145818
Weakley143425
Carter141532
Henderson135425
Monroe134823
Warren13399
Hardin131319
Lauderdale130818
Macon125724
Franklin121115
Haywood119025
Roane11857
Overton111211
Johnson11046
Hawkins109923
Carroll109324
McNairy108825
White107614
Marshall10528
Rhea104816
Cheatham96911
Lake9683
Smith93313
Bledsoe9244
Cocke92212
Giles89234
Campbell8647
Fentress8497
Lincoln8012
Crockett76620
Henry74110
Hickman73913
Chester71214
Marion6999
DeKalb67216
Decatur62511
Grainger5314
Grundy5168
Claiborne4956
Union4932
Polk46913
Jackson4165
Humphreys4094
Morgan4086
Houston38914
Benton3879
Cannon3862
Unicoi3641
Clay36312
Lewis3502
Sequatchie3294
Scott3244
Stewart3087
Meigs2944
Moore2452
Pickett2445
Perry2041
Van Buren1911
Hancock1123

Community Events