Future visitors to the moon may be able to tap into what scientists believe is water that has built up on the moon.
A new study from the Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder suggests volcanoes may have left sheets of ice that could be hundreds of feet thick, according to KMGH-TV.
“We envision it as a frost on the moon that built up over time,” Andrew Wilcoski, lead author and graduate student, said.
Frozen water on the Moon may exist in larger quantities than we thought, new evidence suggests. If confirmed, this potential reservoir of water-ice may be massive enough to sustain long-term lunar exploration for #Artemis astronauts. More: https://t.co/96BFcoIaGM pic.twitter.com/poLb9WjfSM
— NASA (@NASA) August 4, 2019
Paul Hayne, co-author and assistant professor at UC Boulder, said that between 2 billion and 4 billion years ago, the moon was experiencing massive volcanic eruptions.
“They dwarf almost all of the eruptions on Earth,” he said.
Previous research found that in this volcanic heyday, clouds of carbon monoxide and water vapor were ejected and covered the moon.
“The atmospheres escaped over about 1,000 years, so there was plenty of time for ice to form,” Wilcoski said.
Four billion years ago, lava spilled onto the moon’s crust, etching the man in the moon we see today. But the volcanoes may have also left a much colder legacy: ice. https://t.co/uZlHHa2V61
— Science News (@ScienceNews) May 31, 2022
A report in The Planetary Science Journal said that the extremely cold temperatures on the moon could allow ice to remain frozen for billions of years.
The ice could potentially serve as drinking water or fuel in the future, Hayne said.
“It’s possible that [16 to 33 feet] below the surface, you have big sheets of ice,” he said.
Hayne has estimated that roughly 6,000 square miles of the moon’s polar surface could contain ice.
The majority of the ice, which likely accumulated near the moon’s poles, may be covered under several feet of lunar dust.
“We really need to drill down and look for it,” Wilcoski said.
“It’s possible that five or 10 meters below the surface, you have big sheets of ice,” Hayne added.
When the @NASAArtemis I test flight splashes down, the journey will be far from over! This week’s Artemis STEM Learning Pathway newsletter looks ahead to the Artemis missions that will land humans on the Moon.
— NASA STEM (@NASASTEM) May 31, 2022
The Artemis mission to the moon is targeted for its south pole, according to CNN, which is where the ice may be most prevalent. The mission will be the first time humans have landed on the moon since 1972.
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