NASA has confirmed that it has observed what it believes to be ice formed from water on the surface of the Moon. The observation was made by a team of scientists which were led by Shuai Li of the University of Hawaii and Brown University, including Richard Elphic from NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley.
The scientists used data from NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) instrument to identify three specific signatures that definitively prove there is water ice at the surface of the Moon.
"In the darkest and coldest parts of its polar regions, a team of scientists has directly observed definitive evidence of water ice on the Moon’s surface. These ice deposits are patchily distributed and could possibly be ancient. At the southern pole, most of the ice is concentrated at lunar craters, while the northern pole’s ice is more widely, but sparsely spread."
The image shows the distribution of surface ice at the Moon’s south pole (left) and north pole (right), detected by NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper instrument. Blue represents the ice locations, plotted over an image of the lunar surface, where the gray scale corresponds to surface temperature (darker representing colder areas and lighter shades indicating warmer zones). The ice is concentrated at the darkest and coldest locations, in the shadows of craters. This is the first time scientists have directly observed definitive evidence of water ice on the Moon’s surface. NASA
To the Moon
Earlier in June 2018, NASA’s Curiosity rover found new evidence preserved in rocks on Mars that suggests the red planet could have supported ancient life.
"With enough ice sitting at the surface – within the top few millimeters – water would possibly be accessible as a resource for future expeditions to explore and even stay on the Moon, and potentially easier to access than the water detected beneath the Moon’s surface," wrote NASA's Frank Tavares about the observation.
Cover image credit: Distribution of surface ice at the Moon’s south pole (left) and north pole (right), detected by NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper instrument.. NASA.