The National Aeronautics and Space Administration on Tuesday said data from its Moon Mineralogy Mapper instrument, which was aboard India’s Chandrayaan-I aircraft, has found clear evidence of water ice on the moon’s surface.
NASA said Chandrayaan-I, which the Indian Space Research Organisation launched in 2008, “was uniquely equipped to confirm the presence of solid ice on the moon”. “It collected data that not only picked up the reflective properties we’d expect from ice, but was able to directly measure the distinctive way its molecules absorb infrared light, so it can differentiate between liquid water or vapor and solid ice,” the agency said.
NASA said that most of the ice water on the moon lies in the shadows of craters, on the poles. The warmest temperatures in these regions never reach over -250 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 156 degrees Celsius), and hence the ice water cannot change form. “At the southern pole, most of the ice is concentrated at lunar craters, while the northern pole’s ice is more widely, but sparsely spread,” NASA said.
The space agency said that the ice water could be accessible as a resource for future expeditions to the moon, or even to stay on the planet one day.