According to three researchers at the University of California, the amount of water ice on the Moon is much greater than previously thought. The researchers arrived at this conclusion by analyzing the similarities between some regions on Mercury and others on the Moon.
In the study, the researchers describe how they used the data obtained from the Arecibo observatory as well as from NASA space probes to discover different cratered areas present at the poles of Mercury that are shaded precisely because of the conformation of the craters on the surface.
According to the data provided by the probes around the planet, these areas would be characterized by ice deposits several meters thick present in the areas of the craters in shadow. The ice can resist in these places precisely because these areas are shaded by the walls formed by the craters. The researchers therefore thought that there could be areas similar to these also on the Moon. They went looking for and found as many as 12,000 similarly shaded craters.
By analyzing various aspects including the diameter and depth of these craters, the researchers came to the conclusion that these types of areas are very similar and this would indicate that in these craters there can be large icy areas formed by water.
If this theory proved to be correct, it would mean that on the Moon there are millions of tons of water ice, a much larger quantity than previously thought and good news for any human stations on our natural satellite.
The study was published in Nature Geoscience.
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