Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.
Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via paypal:
If Paypal doesn't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to
Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
Cortaro, AZ 85652
A new analysis of Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter data suggests that the coldest spots at the Moon’s south pole are also its brightest, even though they are generally in shadow, suggesting that the surface there might have a thin layer of water frost.
These are also the areas where hydrogen has been detected, which strengthens the theory that this is water.
However, the result is not a positive one for future colonists as it suggests that the amount of water on the Moon is far less than hoped. First, there is this:
The icy deposits appear to be patchy and thin, and it’s possible that they are mixed in with the surface layer of soil, dust and small rocks called the regolith. The researchers say they are not seeing expanses of ice similar to a frozen pond or skating rink. Instead, they are seeing signs of surface frost.
Second, they have not detected this same pattern at the north pole, which strongly suggests that the permanently shadowed areas there do not even have frost.
Overall, this result suggests that the Moon might have water on its surface, but not in great quantities.