ISRO Study Reveals Increased Water Ice in Lunar Polar Craters

New study finds significant water ice in Moon's polar craters, paving the way for future lunar exploration and human settlement.

Rafia Tasleem
New Update
ISRO Study Reveals Increased Water Ice in Lunar Polar Craters

ISRO Study Reveals Increased Water Ice in Lunar Polar Craters

A recent study points to water ice in the Moon's polar craters led by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has found evidence of significantly increased water ice in the polar craters of the Moon. The collaborative research, published in the International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing journal, suggests that the amount of subsurface ice in the first couple of meters is about five to eight times larger than the surface ice in both the northern and southern polar regions.

The study reveals that the northern polar region has twice the amount of water ice compared to the southern region. The researchers confirmed that the primary source of this subsurface water ice is outgassing during volcanism in the Imbrian period, which occurred between 3,850 and 3,800 million years ago. The distribution of water ice is believed to be influenced by Mare volcanism and preferential impact cratering.

Why this matters: The findings have significant implications for future lunar missions and the long-term human presence on the Moon. Drilling and excavating this ice will be critical for supporting future exploration and establishing a permanent human settlement on the lunar surface.

The study utilized data from various instruments onboard NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to gain insights into the origin and distribution of water ice on the Moon. This comprehensive understanding of water ice occurrence in lunar poles is vital for supporting ISRO's future in situ volatile exploration plans on the Moon.

The findings align with a previous study by ISRO's Space Applications Centre (SAC) indicating the potential presence of water ice in polar craters. ISRO and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) are now collaborating on the Lunar Polar Exploration Mission (LUPEX) to further study the Moon's north and south poles and assess the Moon's potential as a stepping stone for deeper space exploration.

Dr. Prakash Chauhan, Director of SAC, emphasized the significance of the study, stating, "This information can help plan future lunar exploration missions and their landing sites. The study supports previous findings from ISRO's Chandrayaan-2 mission, and we are excited to work with JAXA on the LUPEX mission to further explore the lunar poles."

Key Takeaways

  • ISRO-led study finds 5-8x more subsurface water ice in lunar poles
  • Northern polar region has twice the water ice compared to the south
  • Water ice likely from volcanic outgassing during Imbrian period
  • Findings crucial for future lunar missions and permanent settlements
  • ISRO and JAXA collaborating on Lunar Polar Exploration Mission (LUPEX)