Click for full figure.
Using eleven years of data from Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), scientists think they have identified small areas in the Moon’s permanently shadowed interiors of some polar craters where the temperatures are always cold enough for dry ice (solid carbon dioxide) to be stable.
The map to the right, cropped and reduced to post here, is Figure 2 of the paper. It shows the areas at the south pole where stable dry ice is thought possible. The darker blue/purple are colder and thus are expected to have less sublimation. From the abstract:
Carbon-bearing species would be essential for sustained robotic or human presence on the Moon, for use in rocket fuel and biological materials. Various volatiles can be cold-trapped in permanently shadowed craters near the lunar poles. The existence of carbon dioxide cold traps has previously been surmised, but the required temperatures are near the lowest surface temperatures that have been reliably measured. Extensive and improved analysis of 11 years of orbital surface temperature measurements establishes the existence of carbon dioxide cold traps on the Moon, which potentially host high concentrations of solid carbon dioxide. Large CO2 cold traps are rare, however, and the geographic concentration of the resource will have policy implications. [emphasis mine]
The paper also adds in its conclusion that these regions are likely going to be of high value, and will thus likely be prime settlement and mining targets by everyone. As they note, “That this resource is highly concentrated geographically has implications for the governance of the lunar surface.”
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