Home South pole ice Water on the moon ? A new mission will send two satellites to search for water on the moon s

Water on the moon ? A new mission will send two satellites to search for water on the moon s


Only recently have scientists discovered tiny hints of water molecules on the moon, a vital resource for future deep-space missions to the moon and beyond. But finding the exact location has been difficult – until now.

Previous missions in the early 2000s found evidence of water ice on the moon’s poles. These poles are permanently shaded and no sunlight reaches this surface. The craters in the poles are where scientists think there are the most pockets of water.

These areas are so cold that water is trapped and cannot evaporate, NASA explains.

A new mission called Lunar Trailblazer is expected to launch two satellites by 2025 with the goal of mapping the lunar surface and understanding the shape and distribution of water on the moon.

“It’s cold enough at the South Pole and the North Pole to harbor ice and water,” says UCF planetary geologist Professor Kerri Donaldson Hanna. “But we never made any real detections. This will give us our first opportunities to do so.

LISTEN: WMFE Are we already there? spoke with Donaldson Hanna about his next lunar water hunting mission.

Donaldson Hanna is the co-investigator of NASA’s Lunar Trailblazer mission which consists of two desk-sized science instruments. They will launch to the moon together and orbit the moon and collect data above the lunar surface.

The first satellite is a lunar thermal mapper that will map the moon’s surface temperatures in regions that receive very little sunlight. This will tell scientists where the moon’s surface is cold enough to hold water as ice.

The second satellite will study reflected light from the lunar surface that can look for signatures of water ice and other types of water and what makes them different.

NASA wants to send humans back to the moon and establish a permanent lunar science base. To do this, says Donaldson Hanna, finding water on the moon is vital. If future lunar astronauts can utilize the resources of the lunar surface, they won’t need to carry things like oxygen or rocket fuel with them.

“We need to be able to identify the resources that are available to these astronauts for a variety of uses, whether it’s for consumption, for fuel, for building materials. All of these things will help us have humans in space for longer periods of time,” says Donaldson Hanna.

The main mission of the satellite is to identify water on the lunar surface, but it also has the ability to determine the different rocks and minerals on the lunar surface.

“Because we’re also going to be in a lower orbit around the moon, that means we’re going to get better spatial resolution data than ever before,” she says.

One question Donaldson Hanna wants to answer is how the moon’s initial crust formed. The current hypothesis is that it formed through a vast ocean of magma where minerals crystallized and floated to the top of the ocean of magma to form the crust.

“Data like what we’ll get from Trailblazer will help answer that,” says Donaldson Hanna.

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