If solid carbon dioxide is found, these cold traps will be the main source of fuel for future lunar explorers and will help scientists better understand how water and other elements form on the moon.
A team of U.S. scientists has discovered the presence of cold traps in permanently shaded areas at the poles, where temperatures can be as stable as -352 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cooling traps have an area of 78 square miles, the largest area in the Amundsen Greater, which offers 31 square miles. They are located in the same traps that contain water ice.
However, the researchers noted that “the existence of cold CO2 traps does not guarantee the presence of solid CO2 on the moon, but future validation of this verification could reveal CO2 ice there.”
Scientists have previously argued that there are cold traps on the moon, but the new study aims to show where they are and provide a map showing the location of each.
The team used 11 years of temperature data from the Divine Lunar Radiometer experiment, an instrument in NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, to locate cold locations.
According to research published in the journal AGU Geophysical Research Letters, data show that traps are located in multiple pockets around the moon’s south pole.
“When I started this, the question was: Can we say with confidence that there are CO2 cooling traps on the moon?” Norbert Shorekower, a planetary scientist and lead author of the study, said in a statement. . Of course there is. We could not have installed it, so surprisingly, we found enough cool surroundings, no doubt. “
If scientists confirm the presence of solid carbon dioxide in the traps, planning for future lunar exploration will change completely.
The team notes that frozen gas could be used to produce steel and rocket fuel and biomaterials, which would be essential for a robotic or human presence on the moon, the researchers shared in the report.
Scientists can also study lunar carbon to understand how organic compounds are formed and what kind of molecules can naturally form in these harsh environments.
Paul Hein, a planetary scientist at the University of Colorado at Boulder who has not been involved in the study, says cold carbon dioxide traps could help answer the long-standing question of where the water got to the moon.
It will also lead to how water and other volatile substances reach the earth.
“These sites should be the primary target for future landing missions,” Hein said.
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