Shop Windows to the Universe

Dig into Montana Before History: 11K Years of Hunter-Gatherers in the Rockies and Plains by D. H. MacDonald, Ph.D. See our online store book collection.
Clementine's image of the near-side of the Moon
Click on image for full size
NASA

Headlines declare (12/2/96): Ice patches seen on Earth's moon

Radar images of the Moon's surface taken by American Defense Departments's Clementine lunar probe have pointed to the possibility of finding water on the Moon. The images of the Moon's south pole region show a patch of ice about 16 feet thick and roughly the size of four football fields.

One theory suggests that the source of ice was a comet which hit the Moon's surface some 3.6 billion years ago. Water from the icy comet was collected in the bottom of the crater where temperatures fall as low as -230 C. Because moon has no atmosphere, comets do not burn up as they approach its surface. Upon impact with the Moon's surface, gaseous matter from comets hangs around as a cloud. Water molecules from this cloud get trapped in extreme cold regions, finally depositing as ice. The scientist now theorize that vapor from comet impacts drifted towards the pole where it got trapped in extreme cold and turned into ice.

The discovery was made two years ago (~1994), but was hushed until now as the data were being analyzed. The evidence of water was collected by a satellite designed to test technology for tracking and intercepting hostile missiles. The Clementine mission used the Moon as a mock target to test missile sensor equipment, but during its two-month lunar orbit it collected 1.8 million images of over 99.9 per cent of the Moon's surface. Six visits to the equatorial region of the Moon by Apollo spacecraft turned up no trace of water. Twelve astronauts, all from the U.S., have walked on the surface of the moon, which is about 239,000 miles from the Earth.


Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Our online store includes issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist, full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science, as well as books on science education!

Windows to the Universe Community

News

Opportunities

You might also be interested in:

Science, Evolution, and Creationism

How did life evolve on Earth? The answer to this question can help us understand our past and prepare for our future. Although evolution provides credible and reliable answers, polls show that many people turn away from science, seeking other explanations with which they are more comfortable....more

Apollo

To learn more about a specific mission from the Apollo program, the most successful and expensive space program in human history, select one of the links below: Apollo 1 Apollo 7 Apollo 8 Apollo 9 Apollo...more

About Lunar Water

In decades past is was accepted that the Moon contained no water. Moon rocks collected by Apollo astronauts (at lunar equatorial regions) contained no traces of water. Lunar mapping performed by the Galileo...more

Evidence about the Formation of the Moon

Any successful theory must account for everything we know about the Moon now. Those things include the moon seems to be made of the same material as the Earth's upper mantle. the Moon has little or no...more

The Moon's Remnant Magnetism

Although the Moon does not appear to have a magnetosphere surrounding it, it *is* a magnetic object in space. Scientists think that the magnetism of the Moon's surface is leftover from a time when the...more

Outgassing of a Lunar Atmosphere

The atmosphere of the Moon may come from a couple of sources, one source is outgassing or the release of gases such as radon, which originate deep inside the Moon. Gases are released from the interior...more

The Formation of the Moon

Any successful theory must account for everything we know about the Moon now, as well as make predictions about future observations. There are three theories about how the moon came to be in place: that...more

Create Your Own Lightning

Here's a safe and easy way to make lightning. You will need a cotton or wool blanket. This experiment works best on a dry, cool night. Turn out all the lights and let your eyes adjust to the darkness....more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA