A trio of researchers at the University of California have found evidence indicating that there is far more ice on the surface of the moon than was supposed. In their article published in the journal Nature Geoscience Lior Rubanenko, Jaahnavee Venkatraman and David Paige describe their study of the similarities between ice on Mercury and shadow regions on the Moon and what they have found.
Earlier researchers using data from NASA's Arecibo Observatory and the MESSENGER spacecraft found that there are crater zones on Mercury's Poland that appear shadowed by the Earth. Data from the LRO probe, which deliberately hit Mercury's surface (released in 2009 by the orbiting LCROSS satellite), showed water and ice vapor evidence of ice deposits several meters thick in the shaded craters. The research also showed that the ice could remain in the craters because they were in the shade, so it could not be decomposed by sunlight. In this new experiment, researchers investigated the possibility that similar-looking areas on the moon could also harbor ice.
The research trio first noted that the Moon and Mercury have similar thermal environments. They also noted that both Mercury and the Moon have shaded craters with signs of flatness due to material accumulation in the divots. Previous investigations on Mercury revealed that the material was partly made up of ice. To find out if this also applies to the Moon, the researchers next received data describing 2,000 shaded craters on Mercury and 1
To find similarities that might suggest that they both hosted ice, researchers compared their diameter-to-depth ratios. They found that the flatness of shaded craters on Mercury was very similar to the shallowing of shaded craters on the Moon. They suggest that the material that accumulates in the shallow craters of the moon is probably also ice. If their ideas prove correct, it would mean that millions of tons of ice are on the surface of the Moon – far more than most lunar scientists have assumed.
Change the view of the north pole of Mercury
Lior Rubanenko et al. Thick ice deposits in flat simple craters on Moon and Mercury, Nature Geoscience (2019). DOI: 10.1038 / s41561-019-0405-8
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Study shows much more water on the moon than imagined (2019, July 23)
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