Newly published research lays out a map that traces water ice deposits at the poles of the moon — and points to prime territory for future lunar settlements.
The findings, detailed in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, are based on data from NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper, or M3, which was placed aboard India’s Chandrayaan-1 lunar orbiter for its 2008-2009 mission.
The M3 team, led by the University of Hawaii’s Shuai Li, reports that most of the ice at the south pole lies in permanently shadowed craters near the poles, where the warmest temperatures are never higher than 250 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. In some areas, frozen water appeared to account for about 30 percent of the soil content.
Ice in the moon’s north polar region is more widely spread, but at sparser concentrations.