Nearly a year after announcing the discovery of water molecules on the moon, scientists Thursday revealed new data uncovered by NASA’s Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO.
The missions found evidence that the lunar soil within shadowy craters is rich in useful materials, and the moon is chemically active and has a water cycle. Scientists, including co-author Maria Zuber, head of MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, also confirmed the water was in the form of mostly pure ice crystals in some places. The results are featured in six papers published in the Oct. 22 issue of Science.
“NASA has convincingly confirmed the presence of water ice and characterized its patchy distribution in permanently shadowed regions of the moon,” said Michael Wargo, chief lunar scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington and former Hugh Hampton Young fellow. “This major undertaking is the one of many steps NASA has taken to better understand our solar system, its resources, and its origin, evolution, and future.”
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