These pictures were made from Lunar Prospector data released September 3, 1998. The magenta and purple regions indicate the presence of hydrogen, which is assumed to be indicative of water.
Lunar Prospector Makes Exciting Findings
News story originally written on September 4, 1998
The Lunar Prospector spacecraft reached the Moon
in January 1998. Data sent back recently from the Prospector is revolutionizing what scientists know about our closest neighbor, the Moon
One exciting find is that the Moon may contain up to six billion metric tons of water ice at the poles. This is ten times as much as was first predicted from original Prospector data. Scientists haven't found the water ice directly, of course. They have found considerable traces of hydrogen at the poles of the Moon. This hydrogen could indicate something else like hydrogen from the solar wind trapped in rocks. But this and other possibilities are highly unlikely. Generally in our solar system, hydrogen found in soil indicates the presence of water. And the presence of water on the Moon would make human colonization all the easier!
Data that has just been released from Prospector also shows that the Moon likely has a small, iron-rich core approximately 186 miles in diameter. This core is probably producing the weak magnetic field that the Prospector has been measuring.
"The Apollo program gave us an excellent picture of the Moon's basic structure and its regional composition, along with some hints about its origin and evolution. Lunar Prospector is now expanding that knowledge into a global perspective," said Dr. Carl Pilcher, science director for Solar System exploration in NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, DC.
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!
You might also be interested in:
The Lunar Prospector has reached the Moon. The Prospector is in its final mapping orbit. The current spacecraft status is healthy, with all instruments on. Communication with Prospector is stable. ...more
The Lunar Prosector crashed into the Moon on July 31. No plume of dust was visible from Earth. Scientists will study data taken by special instruments to see if water vapor escaped. According to scientists,...more
Don't look at the moon on July 31! A horrible incident will occur! One of NASA's satellites will crash into the Moon! But Wait! Reports from NASA say that they want Lunar Prospector to collide with the...more
NASA chose Deep Impact to be part of a special series called the Discovery Program on July 7, 1999. In May 2001, Deep Impact was given the "go" from NASA to start with mission development. Deep Impact...more
It was another exciting and frustrating year for the space science program. It seemed that every step forward led to one backwards. Either way, NASA led the way to a great century of discovery. Unfortunately,...more
The Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off from Kennedy Space Center at 2:19 p.m. EST, October 29th. The sky was clear and the weather was great as Discovery took 8 1/2 minutes to reach orbit for the Unitied...more
A moon was discovered orbiting the asteroid, Eugenia. This is only the second time in history that a satellite has been seen circling an asteroid. A special mirror allowed scientists to find the moon...more