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article imageIs frost present on the Moon?

By Tim Sandle     Jun 1, 2017 in Science
Houston - Although it has been studied with regularity and visited several times, the Moon continues to present surprises. It appears that bright areas in craters near the moon's south pole are cold enough to have frost present.
The possibility of frost on the Moon comes from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and subsequent analysis carried out at the Goddard Space Flight Center. A study of photographs suggests the lunar craters located close to the south pole of the Moon may have water ice may be present. In these regions, which are classed as bright and cold, the conditions could result in the water ice forming as frost. Frost is the coating or deposit of ice that may form in humid air in cold conditions.
Data used to support the photographic evidence includes information relating to surface temperatures and physical measurements concerning the quantity of light that is reflected off the Moon's surface. This too has come from the orbiter. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is a NASA robotic spacecraft currently orbiting the Moon in an eccentric polar mapping orbit; the data gathered is necessary for planning future human and robotic missions to the Moon.
According to the principal scientist Dr. Elizabeth Fisher: "We found that the coldest places near the moon's south pole are also the brightest places -- brighter than we would expect from soil alone -- and that might indicate the presence of surface frost."
Dr. Fisher goes onto explain that the icy deposits look to be patchy and thin. They may be mixed-up with the surface layer of soil, dust and small rocks (which is technically termed the regolith). Here soil conditions differ to Earth due to mechanical disintegration of basaltic and anorthositic rock, caused by continuous meteoric impact and bombardment by interstellar charged atomic particles over years.
What is of great interest to astrophysicists is how old the moon's ice is> Here the possibility is that if the water was delivered by comets or asteroids it could be as old as the solar system and may offer clues about the delivery of water to Earth.
The research is published in the journal Icarus, under the title "Evidence for surface water ice in the lunar polar regions using reflectance measurements from the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter and temperature measurements from the Diviner Lunar Radiometer Experiment."
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