Home South pole ice Future astronauts could swallow water from ancient lunar volcanoes

Future astronauts could swallow water from ancient lunar volcanoes

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NASA’s Artemis program isn’t just about bringing astronaut boots back to the moon for a brief jaunt. The space agency has plans for a longer-term presence, which focuses on where we might find water resources on the moon. A new study suggests that astronauts should be looking at water left behind by ancient volcanoes.

The moon appears to be a quiet place today, but volcanic eruptions rocked it billions of years ago. A study by researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder suggests there may be slabs of ice up to hundreds of feet thick left on the moon’s poles as a legacy of its past. volcanic.

“We think of it as frost on the moon that has built up over time,” Andrew Wilcoski, lead author of the paper published in The Planetary Science Journal in May, said in a CU Boulder statement Wednesday.

The team used computer simulations to study the effects of volcanoes. The models suggest the volcanoes spewed water vapor that returned to the surface where it turned to ice, a process the researchers likened to the formation of frost on Earth after a cold night. “According to the group’s estimates, about 41% of water from volcanoes may have condensed on the moon as ice,” the university said.

The study adds to scientists’ evolving understanding of water on our lunar neighbor. In 2020, NASA announced definitive evidence of water on the moon. We know it’s there, but there are still questions about where, how much, where it came from and how to reach it. An article published earlier in 2022 discussed how the earth could bring water to the moon.

If the computer simulations hold true, that means there could be thick ice caps nestled in craters, hidden beneath the lunar floor. This water could be used for drinking or to make rocket fuel. Robotic or human explorers could confirm this. Says Wilcoski, “We really need to dig and look for it.”

from NASA Volatiles investigates the polar exploration roveror Viper, slated for launch in 2023, will search for ice deposits on the lunar south pole, giving researchers a new layer of data to work with to uncover the history of water on the moon.