Home South pole ice Carbon dioxide cold traps confirmed on moon surface

Carbon dioxide cold traps confirmed on moon surface

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The Moon has been described by Buzz Aldrin as “magnificent desolation”, but scientists have shown that there is much more to its surface than it looks. In recent years, researchers have found water ice located in cold traps and many other substances in its soil such as oxygen that could be useful in human exploration of our natural satellite.

Researchers have now confirmed that carbon dioxide cold traps are also present on the Moon. They are located in the same cold traps that have water ice around the lunar South Pole. In this region, there are craters that never see sunlight, keeping the temperature so low that the water and carbon dioxide remain solid.

“After water, carbon is probably the most important resource on the Moon. It can be used for the production of rocket fuel, but also for biomaterials and steel. If we have to bring carbon or fuel from Earth, it increases the cost of a sustained presence. It’s part of “living off the land,” or using in situ resources, ”lead author Norbert Schorghofer, of the Planetary Science Institute, said in a statement.

Carbon dioxide cold traps are located in ice water traps (black outlines). Image Credit: Norbert Schorghofer.

The traps mean that in these permanently shaded craters, carbon dioxide in solid form can exist. The work has not yet confirmed the presence of carbon dioxide in these traps, although carbon dioxide has already been observed on the Moon.

“An in-depth and improved analysis of 11 years of orbital surface temperature measurements by the Diviner Lunar Radiometer experiment aboard NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter establishes the existence of cold carbon dioxide traps on the Moon, which harbor potentially high concentrations of solid carbon dioxide, ”said Schorghofer. .

“Our work established the existence of carbon dioxide cold traps, where theory predicts that solid carbon dioxide should have accumulated. Our work does not show that there is actually carbon dioxide in these areas, but it is a reasonable expectation, especially since carbon dioxide has been detected in the impact plume from LCROSS (NASA’s Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite) in 2009. »

NASA-led Artemis program with international cooperation, envisions a human return to the moon around 2025 (after space suit delays and Bezos suing NASA), and China’s National Space Administration is also planning lunar exploration human by the end of this decade.

The southern region of the Moon is seen as a potential location for permanent bases by space agencies around the world. The availability of resources such as water and carbon dioxide would be key to these efforts.

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