Monday, June 25, 2012

Ice on the Moon

Due to their position, craters adjacent to the lunar south pole cannot receive sunlight and they are permanently shadowed. So, the content of such craters were an enigma for scientists. Using the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter data now is possible to determine their structure as never before. Laser scan reveal the presence of ice in the Shackleton crater, an impact crater of 21 km in diameter and 4.2 km deep, located at the Lunar south pole.                               
Image by NASA
While the laser scan performed by the LRO could indicate the presence of water in the polar craters, the current evidence suggests that the crater could be mined for deposits of hydrogen in water form, a chemical element that is expensive to deliver from the Earth. Another project involve this crater as the location for a large infrared telescope placement. The low temperature of the crater floor makes it perfect for infrared observations. And also a NASA Outpost Project, involves the construction of the base along the perimeter of the Shackleton crater.

Read the full article by Bill Steigerwald at the NASA website

Video about Shackleton Crater published on YouTube by MIT.

Video on YouTube

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