Hidden troves of Moon material could let us explore the galaxy

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A “treasure map” showing the location of frozen carbon dioxide on the Moon could help future astronauts travel further into space.

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A recently published study Geophysical Research Papers suggests that a “cold trap” could form solid carbon dioxide that could potentially be exploited to produce rocket fuel, food and oxygen – with the study also called a “treasure map” by its lead author. Is.

While the presence of carbon dioxide ice has not been verified, there are regions on the celestial body where it is always cold, and ice can survive. Some of these regions have not been touched by sunlight for billions of years.


Carbon dioxide and water molecules have also been detected in a pile of debris produced by NASA tests in 2009.

At certain temperatures in these cold traps, water and carbon dioxide change from a solid to a gas state through sublimation – and this process can be so slow that ice accumulates on the Moon faster than it disappears. Go.

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Estimates suggest that there are 6,000 square miles of water ice traps and 79 square miles of nets in the Moon’s south polar region where solid CO2 may exist.

“There must actually be CO2 in these cold traps,” explained lead study author Norbert Schorgofer, a planetary scientist at Arizona’s Planetary Science Institute. popular Science, but a mission would be needed to verify this.

CO2 removal may prove more difficult; Future craft will probably find tiny cold traps that were invisible from orbit, but the exact source of lunar carbon dioxide is still unknown.

Scientists speculate that this is likely from deposits left by comets rich in ice, or from chemical reactions from those impacts. Trapped carbon dioxide from beneath the Moon’s surface can also slowly evaporate and freeze.

Searching for carbon on the Moon may have been “like discovering oil on Earth in the early days,” Schörhofer says, adding that while people were once looking for concentrated hydrocarbons, “we are now looking for concentrated carbon.”


Credit: www.independent.co.uk /

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