New pictures from the moon are drying up any ideas that its poles might have traces of ice that could hold water for future manned trips there.
The high-resolution images, shared in the recent edition of the journal Nature, dispute the theory of cold traps on the poles, particularly the moon’s south pole, where water particles were thought to possibly be found as ice. Radar shots from Earth can now look into these cold traps, which are permanently shaded craters on the moon’s south pole.
Such ice deposits have been found on the planet mercury using the same radar measurement techniques. But the latest images showed no traces of ice on the portions of the moon that radar imaging was done on.
Researchers point out that it doesn’t mean there is no ice on the moon’s south pole, just on the areas that were tested. But the bad news, to anyone thinking of making a manned mission to the moon, is that there probably wouldn’t be enough iced water on the pole to help support a long mission.
Six years ago, the Lunar Prospector orbiter found concentrations of hydrogen around the lunar poles. If that hydrogen could be combined with oxygen in some fashion, estimates were that there could be up to a 1 or 2 percent mixture of ice in the soil on the moon’s poles.
So if you’re planning on going to the moon anytime soon, still plan on bringing enough water for everyone in your party.