NASA’s lunar orbiter has captured bright images of craters near the Moon’s south pole to have the presence of frost, said scientists who have studied the images. They combined surface temperatures with information about how much light is reflected off the Moons surface before arriving at the findings.
“We found that the coldest places near the Moons south pole are also the brightest places — brighter than we would expect from soil alone — and that might indicate the presence of frost,” said Elizabeth Fisher, the lead author of the paper published in the journal Icarus.
The icy deposits of moon frost could have mixed with the surface layer of soil, dust and small rocks called the regolith, which definitely signs of surface frost.
These cold traps or moon frost deposits are permanently dark with no sunlight with temperatures below minus 163 degrees celsius, where water ice can persist for millions or billions of years.
Fisher and her team found evidence of lunar frost by comparing temperature readings with brightness measurements from the spacecrafts Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter, or LOLA. Since the coldest areas near the south pole were very bright, they concluded that the presence of ice or other highly reflective material could be the reason.
When they compared the data further with the peak surface temperatures as water ice wont last if the temperature creeps above the crucial threshold, it indicates frost trapped near the Moon’s south pole. However, researchers have not found similar signs near the Moon’s north pole.
Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter of NASA has been orbiting the Moon since 2009.