For those who fantasize about a thriving human outpost on the moon, finding thick sheets of ice at the lunar poles would be like striking gold. Massive chunks could be carved out of the ground and melted for drinking, growing plants and making rocket fuel. Alas, that dreamy vision may have to be tempered. New moon scans from Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico suggest that future lunar colonists may have to make do with tiny ice crystals suspended within the lunar soil.
The Arecibo team, headed by Bruce A. Campbell of the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies at the Smithsonian Institution, used 70-centimeter-wavelength radar to probe up to five times as deep into the lunar surface as any of the earlier studies that found hints of ice. "We just wanted to be sure we hadn't missed anything," Campbell remarks.
This article was originally published with the title Not So Icy Stares.