We have all heard about water on the knee, water on the brain and running water, but water on the moon? Before last September, scientists believed that the Moon was completely dry, but the recent discovery of ice sheets 7-12 feet thick in lunar caters near the North Pole have altered estimates drastically. Leading researchers now believe that there are billions of tons of ice on the Moon.
Geologist, Paul Spudis, and his team of researchers observed the pockets of thick ice via synthetic aperture radar (SAR). This special mode of imaging allows vision in the dark via radio waves, which reflect off the lunar surface. Previously, these areas of the moon were uncharted territory as they were always in shadows too thick to penetrate.
In his own words:
“What we have found in the last few months is truly astounding. After years of debate about whether the Moon has water or not, we find it in three different settings and styles. Large amounts of water molecules are reaching the permanently dark, cold areas in polar craters and are being trapped there… The total amount of ice is still being studied, but it will most certainly run into the billions of tones. Studying these areas and the secrets they hold will likely give scientists valuable insight not only into the history of the Moon, but that of the solar system as well. A whole new field of science has begun: Lunar hydrology.”
Due to the fact that the ice is not evenly distributed, it is possible that a comet or asteroid may have shifted its original location. The water on the moon is in different forms; large sheets, small pieces or absorbed into minerals.
According to Linda Elkins-Tanton, a geologist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston:
“Though some lunar volcanic rocks do contain a tiny amount of water, the water being measured on the surface almost certainly comes from space and not the lunar interior. That three teams simultaneously measured this phenomenon lets us know the measurements are real, the science good, and the next step of understanding is ready to be taken.”
For the world of science and technology this is a phenomenal step into the understanding of the many aspects of the moon.
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