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WHAT HAPPENS IF WE FIND ICE ON THE MOON?

Have you ever wondered if there’s ice on the moon? You’ve probably seen pictures of the moon and wondered what it’s really like. Maybe you’ve questioned if there’s water or even frozen water on the moon. 


IS THERE ICE ON THE MOON? 

Scientists know that there is ice on the moon based on various studies. The moon ice hides in craters that are shadowed at the poles. This information could impact the ability of people to inhabit the moon because water is necessary for drinking and is used for fuel. 

The areas that are permanently shadowed along the poles happen because the sun never hits those regions. The axis of the moon has a distinct geometry, which allows it to tilt only 1.5 degrees. The trapped water grew over time, but it’s often younger than the craters where it’s located. The age of the water ice helps to determine how much is available, which provides valuable data for planning crewed missions to the moon. 


IS THERE WATER ON THE MOON? 

Along with the trapped ice in the polar regions of the moon, NASA has observed that water is present in the non-polar regions. They were able to observe the moon in infrared through the SOFIA telescope in 2020. Not all areas of the moon can contain water because of the extreme heat, which reaches up to 120 degrees Celsius or 248 degrees Fahrenheit during the daytime. Temperatures inside the craters can be at -250 degrees Celsius or -418 degrees Fahrenheit, which would prevent the water from evaporating. 


Water on the moon is believed to come from asteroids and comets that crashed into the surface. These water-bearing bodies deposit water onto the moon’s surface. Studies conducted remotely indicate that the lunar poles may have more than 600 billion kilograms of water ice. 


WHAT EVIDENCE DO WE HAVE FOR ICE ON THE MOON? 

An experiment was performed in January of 1998 to learn more about frozen water on the moon when the Lunar Prospector was launched into orbit. A Neutron Spectrometer was able to detect levels of water ice lower than 0.01 percent. The experiment looked for the presence of hydrogen, and data showed 4.6 percent in the north polar region while the south region had 3.0 percent. This information indicated that water was located in both regions. 


DO OTHER MOONS HAVE ICE? 

Other moons may have water along with some of the planets. Mercury is one planet that has more water ice within the permanently shadowed regions. Those regions are older than the ones on the moon, which allowed them to trap more water vapor. This finding is quite impressive considering that Mercury is the planet closest to the sun. However, regions that remain in permanent shadow are quite cold, which contrasts to the other areas where sunlight causes them to be extremely hot. 


Scientists and private companies alike are interested in finding water on the moon. It can provide air and drinking water for future habitats or industries on the moon. Exploring these craters in person is much more complicated than observing them from a distance. Other areas of the moon’s surface are flat, but the region of the permanently shadowed craters are rocky. Because they are so cold, special spacecraft are necessary to survive these extreme temperatures. It will be impossible to maintain communication with Earth at these regions because they will lose their line of sight with Earth. With no sunlight, the spacecraft will need other methods of maintaining power. 


NASA has slated 2024 to launch the VIPER mission. This mission will allow scientists to create maps of the water ice and drill into the craters to see what is hidden there. The Artemis program from NASA will be a critical part of this exploration as it works towards its first crewed landing on the moon. 


GO ON YOUR OWN LUNAR ADVENTURE 

While you can’t go to the moon right now, you can enjoy your own lunar experience at Flight Adventure Park. Take flight on our wall-to-wall trampolines or visit our new Lunar Park, which is a massive inflatable that’s part of our themed attractions. See the solar system at Planet Hop as you jump or make your way through the area as you test your agility. Learn more about Flight and check out our special offers for our programs or plan your next space-themed birthday party here. 




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