June 5, 2013
image by Goddard Visualization Lab (NASA/GSFC)
Did you know that one of the most important instruments on LRO is from Russia? The Institute for Space Research in Moscow supplied the Lunar Exploration Neutron Detector (LEND) that maps the distribution of hydrogen near the lunar surface. Cosmic rays striking the Moon dislodge neutrons from atoms in soils, and from the velocity of the neutrons hydrogen abundances as small as 100 ppm can be detected with a resolution of 5 km. The assumption is that the hydrogen maps are actually maps of the locations and quantities of near-surface water ice deposits. It was anticipated that ice would be localized to the bottoms of craters that were permanently shadoawed, but as the image above shows H concentrations also occur outside the permanently shadowed holes. The reasons for this are still a mystery but if true accessing water in regions not at the bottoms of permanently dark and hyper-cold craters should be technologically easier.
PS: Note the spectacular shadow of Amundsen's rim at about 0:50 sec.
21st Century Atlas chart L4.
Yesterday's LPOD: Still a Little Zupid
Tomorrow's LPOD: Craters Beginning with Z