Ice at the Moon's South Pole may have more than one source – ScienceDaily

The discovery of ice deposits in the ice scattered on the Moon's South Pole has helped renew interest in examining the lunar surface, but no one knows exactly when or how this ice came. A new study was published in the journal Icarus It suggests that although most of these deposits are billions of years old, some may be more recent.

Ariel Deutsch, a graduate student at Brown University's Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences and lead author of the study, said that limiting the age of deposits is important for both natural scientists and future lunar explorers who might use this ice. Fuel and other uses.

"The age of these deposits can potentially tell us about the origin of the ice, which will help us understand the source and distribution of water in the solar system," said Deutsch. "For the sake of exploration, we need to understand the lateral and vertical distributions of these deposits to figure out how to better access them. These distributions evolve over time, so the idea of ​​age is important.

For the study, Deutsch worked with Jim Head, Brown Professor, and Gregory Neumann from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Using data from NASA's Lunar Reconstruction Orbiter, which has been in orbit around the moon since 2009, researchers looked at the age of large craters where evidence of ice deposits on the south pole was found. At this time, researchers are counting the number of small craters that have accumulated inside the larger size. Scientists are skeptical about the pace of impact development over time, so counting craters can help determine the age of the terrain.

Most of the ice sheets shown are found in large craters, formed about 3.1 billion years or more ago, the study said. Because ice cannot be older than a crater, this raises the ice age. Researchers say that because the crater is old does not mean that the ice is old, but in this case there is reason to believe that the ice is really old. The deposits have a patchy distribution on the floor of the crater, indicating that ice has long been affected by micrometric impacts and other debris.

If these found ice deposits are really ancient, it could have a significant impact on research and potential resource use, the researchers said.

"Over time, there have been models of bombings showing that ice is starting to concentrate deeper," Deutsch said. "So if you have an old layer surface, you expect more."

Although most of the ice was in old craters, the researchers also found evidence of ice in small craters that, given their sharp, well-defined characteristics, they were quite pure. This indicates that some deposits on the south pole were received relatively recently.

"It was a surprise," Deutsch said. "Earlier there were really no observed ice frosts in young cold traps."

If there are indeed deposits of different ages, the researchers say they may have different sources. Old ice may have originated from water-forming comets and asteroids that impacted the surface, or through volcanic action that drew water from the moon. Lately, water has not been a major factor in this, and volcanism seemed to have stopped on the moon billions of years ago. So, the latest ice fields will need different sources – the bomb may be bombarded with pea-sized micrometers or solar wind implants.

Researchers say the best way to find out is to send a spaceship there to get some samples. And that can be seen on the horizon. NASA's Artemis program aims to put humans on the moon by 2024 and, at the same time, plans to fly many precursor missions on a robotic spacecraft. Supervisor, study co-author, and Doctor of Deutsch. The advisor says such studies will help shape future missions.

"When we think about sending people to the moon for a long study, we need to know what resources we can count on. "Such studies will help us predict where to go to answer these questions."

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materials Brown University. Note: Content can be edited according to style and length.