“There’s not one flavour of water on the Moon; there’s a range of everything”

When Nasa’s LCROSS mission disappeared into the lunar crater Cabeus the initial data collected showed evidence of “a significant amount” of water vapour and water-ice in the impact plume. Now, as the BBC reports, “A radar experiment aboard India’s Chandrayaan-1 lunar spacecraft has identified thick deposits of water-ice near the Moon’s north pole” – estimated as “at least 600 million metric tonnes of water-ice”. And there’s been further analysis of the LCROSS impact plume. From the BBC report

Scientists have also reported the presence of hydrocarbons, such as ethylene, in the LCROSS impact plume. Dr Colaprete said any hydrocarbons were likely to have been delivered to the lunar surface by comets and asteroids – another vital source of lunar water. However, he added, some of these chemical species could arise through “cold chemistry” on interstellar dust grains accumulated on the Moon. In addition to water, researchers have seen a range of other “volatiles” (compounds with low boiling points) in the impact plume, including sulphur dioxide (SO2) and carbon dioxide (CO2).

Meanwhile, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has been radar mapping extensive subsurface ice deposits on Mars.

The subsurface ice deposits extend for hundreds of kilometers, or miles, in the rugged region called Deuteronilus Mensae, about halfway from the equator to the Martian north pole. Jeffrey Plaut of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., and colleagues prepared a map of the region’s confirmed ice for presentation at this week’s 41st Lunar and Planetary Science Conference near Houston.

The Shallow Radar instrument on the orbiter has obtained more than 250 observations of the study area, which is about the size of California.

“We have mapped the whole area with a high density of coverage,” Plaut said. “These are not isolated features. In this area, the radar is detecting thick subsurface ice in many locations.” The common locations are around the bases of mesas and scarps, and confined within valleys or craters.

Plaut said, “The hypothesis is the whole area was covered with an ice sheet during a different climate period, and when the climate dried out, these deposits remained only where they had been covered by a layer of debris protecting the ice from the atmosphere.”

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  • David Crookes

    Thanks, Pete. Our view of Mars and the moon is having to change quite dramatically from year to year. I wonder if some day a presently unimaginable scanner will identify enormous deposits of precious minerals not too far below the lunar surface. How enormous would such deposits have to be for a lunar mining trip to be profitable? And might we see different nations asserting territorial claims to any lunar areas that turned out to be valuable?

  • Marcionite

    Ah here’s the spanner in the works; what makes our minerals valuable is their earthly scarcity. If we mine the Moon or Mars etc, supply would dramatically increase thus reducing revenues and price

    there is a small asteroid out there which is pure diamond. If it were harnessed, diamond would be as common as sand.

    Therefore, is space exploration really in the interest of big business unless their cabal controlled it and controlled supply of extra terrestrial resources

  • David Crookes

    Right, Marcionite, but we could try cutting up the asteroid with long-distance lasers and bringing it down to earth a bit at a time. Of course after a while either De Beers or the Illuminati would have us assassinated.

    I thought once in a moment of lunacy about getting real jade tiles for the kitchen. (Well, for part of it.) Imagine if I could have diamond tiles. My romantic life would go through the roof.

    Now let me be serious. Whatever New Agreed Solution we manage to devise for Our Country, whatever you conceive Our Country to be, we should start looking at our natural resources and MAKING then precious. Let me give you four very humble examples. I made a small harp once from bog oak. In a tourist shop years ago I bought a paperknife whose handle was made of heather stems. In our parks and forests we have any amount of ancient ivy stems which are nearly two inches in diameter. Such stems in former times were made into goblets on the lathe. And finally, really old whin-trunks could be made into a luxury facing timber.

    We have plenty of zinc in Ireland, and a certain amount of bog iron. (I hear that there’s a big bog-iron ‘SMELT PROJECT’ in the RoI later this year.) We also have our own gemstones, which might be cut, polished, and set in mounts made of zinc-plus-bog-iron alloy.

    Does that sound stupid? Well, it’s a dashed sight less stupid than lacquered shillelaghs with shamrocks on them, or than ‘May-the-road-rise-to-meet-you’ tea-towels.

    If we open our eyes and use our imaginations, we shan’t need to go to the moon. Mind you, all this extra-terrestrial water is making me think. I wonder if the author of Psalm 148 verse 4 knew about it. It’s pretty clear from the parallelism that he wasn’t talking about clouds.

  • Marcionite

    is Islam, Allah is the god of worlds, not just world. In Hunduism, they beleive that there’s something like 20 other earths. It’s only earth centric Christianity that is enthralled by the concept of aliens. Other faiths assume they are there already

    Which unfortunate exo planet will be named New Ulster though?

  • David Crookes

    Marcionite, the aliens are there as early as Genesis 6! MARE ULVESTERANUM would be a good name for the next big sea of ice that gets discovered. What do you think is the real reason for the exploration of Mars?

  • Greenflag

    marcionite ,

    ‘there is a small asteroid out there which is pure diamond. If it were harnessed, diamond would be as common as sand.’

    No need to harness an asteroid . In Botswana there are several diamond mines /pipes as yet unopened and kept deliberately so by the Botswanan Gov and De Beers . If they were developed and brought into production you would find ‘buy one get one free ‘ deals in Marks and Sparks etc .

    Never buy a diamond as an investment . They ‘re never worth what the piece of paper says they’re worth if you ever try to sell them 😉

    Here a flaw there a flaw everywhere a flaw flaw
    And another poor baubler is taken to the cleaners once again.