Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter satellite surveys confirmed the presence of water ice just below the Moon’s surface, near its southern pole.
In the blue: the cold areas near the south pole of the Moon.
A group of researchers from the University of Hawaii showed that the use of Nasa LRO probe data (Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter) and the identification of brighter and colder areas than others near the Southern Moon pole indicated the presence of very close ice on the surface.
“We found that the colder places, near the south pole of the moon are also the brightest in the area and may indicate the presence of frost near the surface soil,” says Elizabeth Fisher, principal author of the study published on Icarus (summary , in English).
The deposits didn’t form an ice pits, but they contribute to forming a kind of ice, a powdery mixture, and a small rock fragments. The ice has been found in “cold traps”, means areas along the crater walls or on the bottom of the craters where sunlight never comes and under those conditions ice water can persist For millions if not billions of years.
THE FIRST IPOTES. It is more than 50 years that researchers think of the existence of ice near to the lunar South Pole, but they didn’t have the proof that could validate this idea. The observations made with Nasa Pobe Lunar Prospector in the 1990s confirmed the presence of hydrogen, but it was not possible to see if it was hydrogen of water or other origin.
WHAT IS OLD ? The presence of ice has also been established near the North Pole of Mercury, where it would seem impossible – given the proximity of the planet to the Sun (58 million kilometers).
But since Mercury also has craters within which never comes the light, ice may have remained on the bottom for billions of years. Now scientists are wondering about the source of this ice.