Water ice detected on Moon’s surface

Researchers have confirmed the presence of the frozen stuff on the ground around the lunar north and south poles, a new study suggests.

The result comes from an instrument on India’s Chandrayaan-1 mission, which explored the Moon between 2008 and 2009.

The distribution of the ice deposits is patchy. At the lunar south pole, most of the ice is concentrated in craters. At the northern pole, the water-ice is both more sparse and more widely spread.

Scientists estimate that temperatures in permanently shadowed craters at the Moon’s poles do not rise above -157C. This would create an environment where deposits of water-ice could remain stable for long periods.

The result supports previous indirect detections of surface ice at the Moon’s south pole. However, those results could potentially be explained by other phenomena – such as unusually reflective lunar soil.

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