Washington: A significant amount of hydrogen on the moon is likely to exist as water ice, new research suggests.
To map the lunar polar hydrogen distribution, LFA Teodoro at Eloret Corporation and colleagues used an image reconstruction algorithm applied to existing data from the Lunar Prospector, which detected low energy neutrons-an indication of the presence of hydrogen.
They compared their hydrogen distribution map with a map of permanently shadowed crater locations derived from altimetry measurements from the KAGUYA (aka SELENE) spacecraft.
The results demonstrate that the hydrogen distribution is not uniform near the lunar poles. Rather, hydrogen is concentrated in permanently shadowed craters, indicating that a significant amount of lunar hydrogen is likely to be in the form of water ice.
The researchers estimate that there could be about 5 × 1011 kilograms of water ice in craters near the lunar poles.
The study adds to and expands upon other evidence showing that water ice is common on the Moon, which could be important for future lunar exploration.
The research appears in the journal Geophysical Research Letters (GRL).