There is much less water on the Moon than previously thoughtsays Norbert Schorghofer of the Planetary Science Institute in Arizona, co-author of the research, whose results were published in Advancement of science. Calculations by Schorgofer and Raluca Rufo of the Southwest Research Institute in Colorado are of great importance not only for understanding the history of the Moon, but also for establishing a permanent base on the silver sphere. A base that will support manned missions to Mars. Kevin Cannon, a geologist at the Colorado School of Mines who maintains an inventory of promising landing and mining sites on the Moon, has already begun updating it based on Schorgofer and Rofo’s calculations.
Water on the Moon, in the form of ice, is found in the permanently shaded regions of lunar craters. There he only has a chance to survive. These permanently shaded regions are some of the coldest places in the solar system. We can rely on water mainly in deep craters near the poles. There, the angle of incidence of sunlight is only 1.5 degrees. However, this was not always the case. Billions of years ago, the Moon’s axis was tilted at a completely different angle, perhaps even 77 degrees different than it is today. This orientation exposes the poles to the sun, eliminating any shaded areas and thus evaporating the ice there.
We know that the Moon formed about 4.5 billion years ago as a result of a planet the size of Mars colliding with the Earth. Since then, it has been migrating further and further away from our planet. At first, it was under the overwhelming influence of the Earth’s tidal forces, but now the Sun’s tidal forces play a greater role, and this change has led to a change in the direction of the Moon’s axis. The main question is when this happened. If it is earlier, there should be more ice on the moon, and if it is later, there should be less ice.
Only in 2022, astronomers from the Paris Observatory were able to solve the age-old problem of the incompatibility of geochemical data with the physical model of the interaction of tidal forces. Schorgofer and Ruffo took advantage of the work of the French and created an improved model showing how the moon’s axis changes over time. This allowed me to determine how much ice might be present in existing, permanently shaded areas.
Their calculations show that the oldest permanently shaded areas formed no more than 3.94 billion years ago. Therefore, they are much younger than previously thought, which means there is much less water on the Moon. We can no longer expect layers of pure ice tens to hundreds of meters thickSchorgofer says.
However, the scientist adds that this research should not be treated only with pessimism. They provide more accurate data about where the ice should be. Moreover, previous research conducted by Schorgofer with Paul Heine of the University of Colorado and Oded Ahronson of the Weizmann Institute in Israel shows that there are more permanently shaded areas than previously thought, and ice may be present even in areas with a population of 900 million people. Just. Years. Years. The conclusions reached by the research indicate that there is much less ice on the Moon, but it is present in more places.
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