Feeds

NASA sniffs out (yet more) lunar ice

North pole craters lined with the stuff

Intelligent flash storage arrays

NASA has announced that the Moon's north pole is packing substantial amounts of water ice, lurking in around 40 small craters.

The evidence comes from the agency's Mini-SAR (aka Mini-RF) instrument, a synthetic aperture radar which travelled aboard India's Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft. The device used "the polarization properties of reflected radio waves to characterize surface properties", and determined that deposits in permanently-shadowed craters at the pole have characteristics "similar to ice".

The craters range from 2 to 15 km in diameter, and while the total amount of frozen water depends on the deposit thickness in each, NASA has calculated it as "at least" 600 million metric tons.

Paul Spudis, Mini-SAR principal investigator at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, said: "The emerging picture from the multiple measurements and resulting data of the instruments on lunar missions indicates that water creation, migration, deposition and retention are occurring on the moon.

"The new discoveries show the moon is an even more interesting and attractive scientific, exploration and operational destination than people had previously thought."

NASA's latest findings - published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters - add to a solid body of evidence for lunar ice. In September last year, other results from the Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) on Chandrayaan-1, and NASA's Cassini and Deep Impact missions provided "unambiguous evidence for the presence of hydroxyl* or water" on the Moon.

The Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) then showed there was plenty of ice at the Moon's south pole.

While it's evident that future Moon explorers will have no shortage of cold stuff to stick in their gin and tonics, one question remains: where did the Moon's water come from? It's possible that it arrived on water-bearing comets which impacted on the surface or, according to NASA's M3 team, by way of an "endogenic" process.

The M3 scientists have suggested that if the solar wind's positively-charged hydrogen atoms impact against the Moon's surface with sufficient force they can "break apart oxygen bonds in soil materials", and "where free oxygen and hydrogen exist, there is a high chance that trace amounts of water will form".

NASA has more details on the Mini-SAR findings here. ®

Bootnote

*One hydrogen atom and one oxygen atom linked by a single bond.

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING
Alpine chamois being squashed by global warming
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.