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NASA Finds Major Ice Source In Moon Crater

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the water-the-chances dept.

Moon 103

coondoggie writes with news that a NASA survey of the moon's Shackleton crater by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has provided data indicating as much as 22% of the crater's surface may be covered in ice. "The team of NASA and university scientists using laser light from LRO's laser altimeter examined the floor of Shackleton crater. They found the crater's floor is brighter than those of other nearby craters, which is consistent with the presence of small amounts of ice. ... The spacecraft mapped Shackleton crater with unprecedented detail, using a laser to illuminate the crater's interior and measure its albedo or natural reflectance. The laser light measures to a depth comparable to its wavelength, or about a micron. That represents a millionth of a meter, or less than one ten-thousandth of an inch. The team also used the instrument to map the relief of the crater's terrain based on the time it took for laser light to bounce back from the moon's surface. The longer it took, the lower the terrain's elevation. ... The crater, named after the Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton, is two miles deep and more than 12 miles wide. Like several craters at the moon's south pole, the small tilt of the lunar spin axis means Shackleton crater's interior is permanently dark and therefore extremely cold."

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MIGHT (5, Insightful)

Dthief (1700318) | more than 2 years ago | (#40389409)

MIGHT have ice....anywhere from 0-22%....inconclusive results which suggest further study is needed to figure out where in this range it really is.

Re:MIGHT (-1, Flamebait)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 2 years ago | (#40389649)

MIGHT have ice....anywhere from 0-22%....inconclusive results which suggest further study is needed to figure out where in this range it really is.

If we gave a shit we'd be up there with a shovel doing all the "further study" required and more.
Thanks Obama.

Re:MIGHT (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40389713)

It is most certainly the nigger's fault. Because he is King of the US. There are no other branches of government making decisions about these kinds of things. Civics class was all brainwashing. The real-deal is what I'm told on CNN and Fox News.

Re:MIGHT (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40389961)

Dude stop being a denier, it was BO's fault, not sure why you used such harsh words like maybe a Troll would? Cry like a race baiting baby why don't ya?

Re:MIGHT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40389765)

That's up tom 24.8688 square miles of ice all within 6 miles of one point.

It seems this is all easily reachable from a hypothetical, future moon base.

Now to get better numbers and plan a permanent moon base.

Do we put the base in the crater and feed power to it from remote solar cells, or do we move the ice (water?) from the rim to the base?

Either way, that's (up to) a lot of Oxygen (gas) and rocket fuel.

Re:MIGHT (1)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#40390047)

Put it in the crater - underground, actually, dug into the walls of the crater. Gives you better protection from radiation, and helps maintain stable temperatures (not quite needed in a crater that's always in darkness, though).

Re:MIGHT (1)

kanto (1851816) | more than 2 years ago | (#40390597)

The stash is on the south pole and I'm assuming that's less than optimal for solar cells:
- wouldn't the tilt that causes winter and summer on the earth mean less/no sun half of the time there?
- a large array of panels areawise would be more difficult?

Never have had to think about solar cells on the moon's poles :)

Re:MIGHT (3, Interesting)

dan828 (753380) | more than 2 years ago | (#40390695)

The moon's axial tilt is far less than the earth's. Only about 1.5 degrees as opposed to about 23.5 degrees for the earth. The only difficulty is that the solar arrays would have to be almost vertical, be just finding a nice hillside for them would solve that.

Re:MIGHT (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40395583)

Putting them flat on a hilltop, and rigging a big mylar mirror at 45 degrees over them (gyrating to keep pointed at the sun) would be cheaper than finding nice hillsides pointing in all directions, and installing solar panels on all of them, and not suffer from any given hillside being in shade half the time, and at a non-ideal orientations most of the rest of the time. For bonus points, you can even make the mylar mirror concave and collect more sunlight than the area of your PV installation.

Re:MIGHT (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 2 years ago | (#40390713)

Nuke. Ironic with all the possible solar up there, but I think a 20MW nuke would be a good thing to have at your lunar base. What if the solar cells have a fault, and you can't charge your repair equipment to fix the fault? Solar for peak demand, nuke for UPS demand.
-nB

Re:MIGHT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40391115)

So... You propose bringing a nuke, to act as a safety measure in the case of failing solar. Good luck with that!

Re:MIGHT (2)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 2 years ago | (#40391713)

Seriously, there is nothing new about nuclear devices in space. In addition they have an excellent safety record, both the RTG kind and the few "conventional" powerplants.
-nB

Re:MIGHT (1)

zAPPzAPP (1207370) | more than 2 years ago | (#40392901)

Yes, they are called stars.

Re:MIGHT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40394135)

GP was referring to a nuclear power plant, not a nuclear weapon, if that wasn't clear.

Re:MIGHT (5, Informative)

mbone (558574) | more than 2 years ago | (#40391063)

Never have had to think about solar cells on the moon's poles :)

Lots of people have been. There are regions of the rim of Shackleton Crater which are never out of the Sun*, so solar power could be collected there and beamed down into the crater. This is the reason why NASA selected power beaming for a Game Changing Technology [nasa.gov] award.

* Well, maybe never, or maybe never except for a few days every few years. There are still arguments about the terrain models, so I believe the point is still uncertain. And, of course, you will lose the Sun every time there is a Lunar eclipse (i.e., when the Earth gets in the way).

Re:MIGHT (1)

cygnwolf (601176) | more than 2 years ago | (#40389925)

IIRC, didn't LCROSS show something between 2.5 and 8.5? Far cry from 22%, but then again, it was a different crater...

Re:MIGHT (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#40390237)

MIGHT have ice....anywhere from 0-22%....inconclusive results which suggest further study is needed to figure out where in this range it really is.

Sure plays havoc with my feedble understanding of chemistry, physics and time. That ice has to have been there for hundreds of millions of years. Yet it didn't sublimate in that time.

Re:MIGHT (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#40390697)

At 10 or so Kelvin, perhaps less, sublimation is going to be extremely slow.

Re:MIGHT (2)

mbone (558574) | more than 2 years ago | (#40391093)

The rim of the crater is illuminated by the Sun, which for good part of the month lights up the crater interior brighter than full Moon on Earth, and prevents it from getting colder than about 70 K.

Re:MIGHT (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#40391511)

Even 70 K is extremely chilly as far as water goes, meaning sublimation will be very slow.

Re:MIGHT (1)

Paracelcus (151056) | more than 2 years ago | (#40390939)

What has kept the ice from evaporating over billions of years? In a vacuum and in the solar heating of the Lunar day.

I can't imagine that there can be much anywhere near the surface.

Re:MIGHT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40395051)

its in a crater in the right part of the moon such that it doesnt get light....which is why they think there could be ice in the first place......and although its under vacuum, its also really f***ing cold on the moon

Re:MIGHT (1)

voidphoenix (710468) | more than 2 years ago | (#40396079)

It's in the summary! Was it a failure of reading comprehension or attention span?

Like several craters at the moon's south pole, the small tilt of the lunar spin axis means Shackleton crater's interior is permanently dark and therefore extremely cold.

Re:MIGHT (1)

Paracelcus (151056) | more than 2 years ago | (#40413489)

You simpleminded little boy, ice evaporates in a vacuum, at anything above (near) absolute zero and even in persistent shadow, the moon still does not get as cold as a Jovian satellite!

My mistake I was expecting an answer from a sentient being, not an ambulatory bread mold!

O Noes Teh Poor Ices! (1)

Raved Thrad (1864414) | more than 2 years ago | (#40419497)

ice evaporates in a vacuum

Wow, did someone rewrite the laws of physics as regards the chemical properties of solid water when I wasn't looking? Goddamn, that must mean that comets [wikipedia.org] don't actually exist, because they are, after all, agglomerations of dust, rock, and... wow, look at that! ice, totally exposed to the vacuum of space, and couldn't possibly survive long enough for our obviously ignorant, non-creationist "scientists" to observe them and catalog four thousand one hundred and eighty-five of them.

And I guess Jupiter's moon Europa [wikipedia.org] is shot, too, because it's just so much ice and rock at what might as well be the partial vacuum of 0.1 Pa. It's incredible that our ignorant, non-creationist astronomers can still see it in their telescopes, considering that ice evaporates in a vacuum. Wow, they must have such incredible imaginations!

Re:MIGHT (1)

voidphoenix (710468) | more than 2 years ago | (#40419563)

BZZZT! Arrogant asshole [slashdot.org] is WRONG.

ice evaporates in a vacuum

Ice doesn't evaporate in a vacuum, it sublimates at pressures below 611 Pa.

the area is permanently dark and therefore extremely cold?

even in persistent shadow,

Oh now you acknowledge the persistent shadow. Whatever happened to

the solar heating of the Lunar day

?

the moon still does not get as cold as a Jovian satellite!

Really now? The Moon's coldest is around 70 K. I think it's a safe assumption that a permanently shadowed portion would be around that temperature, since there's no atmosphere to distribute heat. Of the Jovian satellites, only Europa's coldest is colder than that, at 50 K, and its mean temperature is 102 K. Ganymede's coldest is just as as cold as the Moon, at 70 K, and its mean temperature is 110 K. Callisto's and Io's coldest are both warmer than the Moon's, at 80 K and 90 K, respectively. Metis, ~123 K. Andrasta, ~122 K. Amalthea, ~120 K. Thebe, Themisto, Leda, Himalia, Lysithea, Elara, Carme, Ananke, Pasiphae, Sinope, ~124 K. Carpo, S/2003 J 12, Taygete, Eukelade, S/2003 J 5, Chaldene, Isonoe, Praxidike, Iocaste, Harpalyke, Thyone, Euanthe, Euporie, Callirrhoe, Megaclite, Autonoe, Eurydome, Sponde, S/2003 J 2, no data. Looks like Jovian satellites are a good 50 K warmer than our Moon's cold spots.

Your actual mistake, you pathetic excuse for a ganglion, is that you not actually anywhere as brilliant as you like to think you are, as evidenced by your choice of nickname. As you yourself admitted:

I can't imagine that there can be much anywhere near the surface.

No, you really can't imagine much of anything at all, can you?. Us ambulatory molds, on the other hand, can engineer train and traffic networks. [livescience.com]

Re:MIGHT (1)

Paracelcus (151056) | more than 2 years ago | (#40445491)

I stand corrected, I, unlike you graduated from school (grad school) during the Johnson administration, I was remembering something entirely different!

It would seem that even dumbass, snotty little schoolboys can be right once in a while!

Re:MIGHT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40391491)

MIGHT have ice....anywhere from 0-22%....inconclusive results which suggest further study is needed to figure out where in this range it really is.

Well, so far all the armchair scientists here aren't suggesting any alternative hypothesis to explain the high albedo. So I'm not interesting in those attacks. The biggest reason not to get excited about this result is the thickness. This could be just a tiny thin frost and not useful for anything.

Might have spiders.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40391689)

...lots of little black rocks that suddenly sprout numerous legs and scurry about, and imbed themselves under your skin.

Re:MIGHT (1)

michelcolman (1208008) | more than 2 years ago | (#40395597)

Might have HAD ice... before they evaporated it all using that laser.

Not really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40409951)

Ernest Shackleton was a renound Antartic polar explorer. Ring any bells. You're now allowed to know that there's ice there. It would appear that others have known for a a good deal longer.

Who has the arrogance to name a crater after an ice explorer if it's not known that it contains ice? Would Scientists do such a thing? I think not.

Re:Not really (1)

voidphoenix (710468) | more than 2 years ago | (#40454787)

Or maybe they named it after an Antarctic explorer because the crater is at the south pole of the Moon...

try this: (4, Funny)

woodworx (1780214) | more than 2 years ago | (#40389473)

we should shoot a water cannon at that crater and store some frozen water for later use!

Re:try this: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40389839)

Great, you know how many millibars of pressure you'd need to get water to the moon?

Re:try this: (3, Informative)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 2 years ago | (#40389907)

0 if you move it in solid form.

Re:try this: (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40390125)

Water cannon, not ice cannon.

I'm presuming a really big Super-soaker. Eleventy-kajillion pumps ought to be sufficient.

Re:try this: (1)

espiesp (1251084) | more than 2 years ago | (#40390129)

No, do you?

Re:try this: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40393541)

That answer will cost you 113,000 dollars in fees.

Re:try this: (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 2 years ago | (#40390861)

~37683609004.8mB
(using ultra naive calculation of distance to the moon in inches of water converted to mB)
given that the distance to L1 is ~1.28367717 × 10^10 inches that means we really only need 3196356153.3mB to reach L1 and the rest of the trip is free.
-nB

How to aim this and deal with air currents is someone else's problem.

Re:try this: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40390449)

Should mod Funny. Aside from scientific curiosity, we care about water in the crater because moving water from Earth would be too expensive. I assume the parent knows that and is joking.

Re:try this: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40391291)

Another half-baked thought - imagine how much oxygen is in the Venusian atmosphere considering it's 90 times as dense as earth and almost the same size. That'd be a helluva lot of oxidizer if you could remove the carbon [google.com] .

Dark Side (3, Funny)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#40389533)

"Shackleton crater's interior is permanently dark"

So that's the dark side of the moon that Pink Floyd was talking about

There is no dark side of the moon, really. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40389873)

Matter of fact, it's all dark.

Re:Dark Side (3, Informative)

Exrio (2646817) | more than 2 years ago | (#40389877)

Ah, so the prism is actually ice, and the white beam is actually six laser beams combined. That explains a lot.

Re:Dark Side (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40389951)

No, listen the album to the very end. As a matter of fact, the whole Moon is dark.

Re:Dark Side (1)

THE_WELL_HUNG_OYSTER (2473494) | more than 2 years ago | (#40390781)

What? Shackleton's crack is permanently dark?

Re:Dark Side (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40391743)

Yes. Specifically it's the ice hole at the bottom of his crack.

Re:Dark Side (1)

TarPitt (217247) | more than 2 years ago | (#40394059)

Yes, the sun don't shine there

Cool (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40389547)

n/t

umm... (3, Funny)

Terracotta122 (2653543) | more than 2 years ago | (#40389597)

Isn't there ice everywhere in the solar system? What next? Big Buck Bunny lives on mars?

Re:umm... (1)

Terracotta122 (2653543) | more than 2 years ago | (#40389785)

...On second thought, why don't we just get a planet cracker up there? What could POSSIBLY go wrong?

Mrs. Source relieved. (4, Funny)

MRe_nl (306212) | more than 2 years ago | (#40389637)

The Major had been missing for a week.

Re:Mrs. Source relieved. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40390841)

I would think she'd be quite pissed off. Have you seen Moon Crater?

We're going to the moon! (1)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 2 years ago | (#40389683)

Because if there's a precious natural resource waiting to be depleted that is just irresistible.

Re:We're going to the moon! (4, Interesting)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 2 years ago | (#40390819)

What's the point of leaving natural resources in place?

Re:We're going to the moon! (1)

cyclomedia (882859) | more than 2 years ago | (#40395901)

Because it's not ours?

Re:We're going to the moon! (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 2 years ago | (#40419337)

How would you define ownership over a resource on the moon? Is there anyone to object if we exploit it to produce rocket fuel or breathable are or whatever? You could say that we should save it for future generations, but it's unlikely they'd use it any differently.

That's global warming solved (1)

RLiegh (247921) | more than 2 years ago | (#40389703)

Just get it from there to here and we're golden.

Re:That's global warming solved (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40389831)

ONCE, AND FOR ALL!

Ok (5, Funny)

busyqth (2566075) | more than 2 years ago | (#40389747)

So we know where the bar goes.
What's the next most important item? Life support?

Finally don't have to go to arctic to get ice (4, Funny)

shoppa (464619) | more than 2 years ago | (#40389817)

Finally, we no longer have to send men on a hazardous trip to the arctic every time we need more ice.

I think we all know what to do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40389857)

I'm talking about cloning Sam Rockwell of course.

Fascinating! (5, Interesting)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#40389885)

I remember reading up on Shackleton Crater a while back, when I was trying to write a sci-fi story (it never really got anywhere - sorry!). I needed a name for the main character, most surnames are based on either location or occupation. At the time of the story, humanity is just beginning to spread beyond the solar system, so the Moon's been inhabited for quite some time. Thus: Captain Ran fr'Shackleton (I'm also a bit of a Tolkien fan, so I tried to think about how the language will change over the next few centuries - we seem to like shortening things, so I cut a syllable out of the common cognomen "Ryan" and abbreviated "from").

Anyways...

We've long suspected that there was ice there, and several other factors made this a quite good location for a moonbase (good terrain, relatively well-explored, and a crater in general is a good idea because it will help protect against radiation). If it really does have that much ice, it might actually go from "theoretically possible" to "economically feasible" to build a moonbase.

Re:Fascinating! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40390235)

I always thought our Moon was a good place for a moonbase. Not to sure why we'd put a moonbase on anything besides a moon really.

Re:Fascinating! (1)

steelfood (895457) | more than 2 years ago | (#40391623)

China: All your base are belong to us!

Re:Fascinating! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40397011)

In post-communist China, government moons you!

FTFY (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40391503)

| Captain Ran fr'Shackleton

Cranfrackle

Re:Fascinating! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40393813)

> Thus: Captain Ran fr'Shackleton (I'm also a bit of a Tolkien fan, so I tried to think about how the language will change over the next few centuries - we seem to like shortening things, so I cut a syllable out of the common cognomen "Ryan" and abbreviated "from").

seriously? "fr'sh"? usually when we shorten things, it's to make them easier to say

Re:Fascinating! (1)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#40394099)

Weird, I'm able to pronounce it just fine (I'm mis-using the ' as "extremely short nonspecific vowel", not "glottal stop"; while technically incorrect, this matches common usage, which seems to be increasingly popular (again, I'm extrapolating a few centuries out)).

New mission to Moon proposed (1)

erik umenhofer (782) | more than 2 years ago | (#40390059)

A new mission has been funded by private parties (most notably sports team owners) to send Robert 'Bobby' Boucher Jr. to the moon to recover said water sources. Think tanks involved with the mission have stated that moon ice water is of the "highest quality H2O" and must be collected for commercial purposes.

Re:New mission to Moon proposed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40390173)

Would have expected better from a 3 digit.... Maybe something along the lines of "I don't know, but i've been told.... Moon crater (somthing or other) is mighty cold"

Bathroom? (2)

slapout (93640) | more than 2 years ago | (#40390077)

Great, they found were the astronauts peed.

Micron? (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#40390099)

How do they get micron accuracy from a moving platform 50km above the service ? Do they use multiple beams and compare measurements between the bottom of the crater and some point determined to be at surface level? What's the "reference" altitude they are comparing the depth to? If the laser beam has (for example) a 5 cm radius at the surface, and it's shining on a slope (or there's a grain of sand in the middle of the beam), how is that measurement recorded?

Re:Micron? (5, Informative)

mbone (558574) | more than 2 years ago | (#40390911)

You are mixing up albedo / reflectivity with ranging. Skin depth / surface detail info is not the same as geodetic accuracy (which is at the 10 cm level at best without a corner cube retroreflector).

Here is an example - suppose I shine a flashlight on my car at night. Can I tell if it is wet ? Yes, because I can see specular reflection from a thin layer of water if it is. That layer may be 100 microns thick; seeing it doesn't mean that I know where I am, or where my car is, or the relative distance between us, to anything like 100 microns.

The LRO has a multi-beam altimeter, with fiber optics to send out 5 shots simultaneously from each laser pulse - see Dave Smith's LEAG presentation [nasa.gov] , page 6. Each spot is 5 meters across (actually, less now as the orbit has been lowered); with 5 spots they can get the local slope and estimate the terrain roughness per shot. They estimate that they can get 10 cm height accuracy with these multiple beams, when the local slope is less than 3 degrees.

Re:Micron? (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#40391607)

You are mixing up albedo / reflectivity with ranging. Skin depth / surface detail info is not the same as geodetic accuracy (which is at the 10 cm level at best without a corner cube retroreflector).

Thanks for the info, I guess I was confused by this from the Summary:

The spacecraft mapped Shackleton crater with unprecedented detail, using a laser to illuminate the crater's interior and measure its albedo or natural reflectance. The laser light measures to a depth comparable to its wavelength, or about a micron. That represents a millionth of a meter, or less than one ten-thousandth of an inch. The team also used the instrument to map the relief of the crater's terrain based on the time it took for laser light to bounce back from the moon's surface.

Which I took to mean that it was measuring depth to the nearest micron and seemed remarkably precise from an orbital platform. I'm familiar with albedo, but I still don't see the relation between measurement to the nearest micron and measuring albedo.

Re:Micron? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40392087)

The spacecraft mapped Shackleton crater with unprecedented detail, using a laser to illuminate the crater's interior and measure its albedo or natural reflectance. The laser light measures to a depth comparable to its wavelength, or about a micron. That represents a millionth of a meter, or less than one ten-thousandth of an inch. The team also used the instrument to map the relief of the crater's terrain based on the time it took for laser light to bounce back from the moon's surface.

Which I took to mean that it was measuring depth to the nearest micron and seemed remarkably precise from an orbital platform. I'm familiar with albedo, but I still don't see the relation between measurement to the nearest micron and measuring albedo.

Because there is no relationship; you made one of those up, why should it be related?

"Measures depth to the nearest micron" != "Measures [albedo] to a depth of a micron"

Welcome to English grammar, where arbitrarily changing the order of words can determine whether they're the direct object or the object of a prepositional phrase. Which is why we don't do it!

Re:Micron? (1)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 2 years ago | (#40393021)

I still don't think he got it.

They measured the depth "into" the material, as in it's surface, regardless of its position or location.

Re:Micron? (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#40394195)

I still don't think he got it.

They measured the depth "into" the material, as in it's surface, regardless of its position or location.

Yeah, I guess I still don't get it.

Albedo isn't measured in microns (or any other distance unit of measure), so what is this laser measuring to a depth of "microns", if the depth of the crater can only be measured to within 10 cm from orbit? Where does the resolution of microns come into play?

Re:Micron? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40395721)

THERE ISN'T A "RESOLUTION OF MICRONS", DAMMIT!
It's measuring albedo to a micron deep, not measuring anything in microns, or to the nearest micron, or whatever other phrase you pull up.

Here, have a thought experiment...

Suppose I have a really shiny surface -- high albedo, right? Gloss white paint, whatever ice, whatever.

Now if I add a uniform, nanometers-thick layer of soot, it'll have a lower albedo. I add more, it gets lower. Eventually, I add so much the original bright surface means nothing -- it's exactly the albedo of a sooty wasteland.

Conversely, if I start with a flat black surface, and I add a very thin layer of high-albedo coating. It gets lighter, but not white -- I keep adding it, eventually only the coating matters.

The albedo measurement doesn't tell you about bulk properties of the whole planet, nor about surface properties per se, but about the reflectivity of a finite thickness skin along the surface, the depth the wavelength used can penetrate. In general, longer wavelengths will penetrate farther, and the skin depth is on the order of the wavelength -- LRO's LOLA uses a NIR beam, with 1064nm wavelength, so it's only measuring a layer on the order of 1um thick -- if we get a real high albedo, it tells us pretty much that whole layer is high-albedo, so we can conclude that there is ice, and that it is at least 1um thick, but that doesn't tell us whether it's a sub-mm frost layer, or a km-thick frozen lake.

Do you get it yet? That's all -- it's measuring the reflectivity of layer that's (on the order of) a nanometer thick as a consequence of the wavelength and the planetary material, absolutely nothing to do with the precision of any instrument. Since this is just exactly what TFS said, only explained three times slowly, I'm not optimistic, but I really do hope it helps.

Heh, captcha="retried"

Found evidence of Found (5, Informative)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 2 years ago | (#40390181)

I just wish the editors would do their job and change headlines to what the article actually says;

ASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft has returned data that indicate ice may make up as much as 22 percent of the surface material in a crater located on the moon's south pole.

They found the crater's floor is brighter than those of other nearby craters, which is consistent with the presence of small amounts of ice.

In addition to the possible evidence of ice,...

Nowhere did they state they found ice or in what quantity. As for quantity, it could be a small quantity spread over a wide area.

Re:Found evidence of [water] (1)

slew (2918) | more than 2 years ago | (#40391069)

I say we nuke the site from orbit, it's the only way to be sure...

Oh, wait, didn't we try something like that already... http://lcross.arc.nasa.gov/observation.htm [nasa.gov]
(yes, I know no nuclear weapons were involved)

The real issues are the neo-cons in CONgress (-1, Offtopic)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#40390445)

They are working hard to stop private space. They finally relented to allowed a small amount of money for 2.5 crafts, but they insist that 5x or more money flow to their jobs Bill: The Senate Launch System (SLS). Now, they are blocking NASA from helping Bigelow from getting off the ground. Yet, if Bigelow is off the ground around 2014, we will go back to the moon within 4 years or so.

What is needed is for us to GUT SLS on the next budget, but create a COTS II for SHLV. Then create 2 launchers of which they both get max 5B to develop it, and must launch for under .5B with over 120 tonnes to LEO. In addition, at the end of it, a new contract will be opened to pay for 5 launches per year for 4 years (2 from one and 2 from another, with a 3rd going to the lowest bidder). By doing something like this, we end up with similar launch vehicles with similar costs structures. Lose one, and we are still going.
Note, that we allow the current builders of the SLS to put it up for bid. If they can do it for that cheap and that quickly, then they get the contract.

But, the real priorities must be human launch AND private space stations. That gives multiple locations, and allows us to fully test equipment in space prior to going to the moon BEFORE 2020.

Re:The real issues are the neo-cons in CONgress (1)

Spy Handler (822350) | more than 2 years ago | (#40393287)

I've always been a moderately conservative/libertarian-leaning dude who supported Republicans in the past because they seemed less loony than the Dems.

No longer. The current crop of Republicans pushing for the Shuttle Contractor Pork Program (a.k.a. SLS) disgust me. They can fuck off and die as far as I'm concerned. Obama is giving SpaceX and other private firms a chance, and whatever faults Obama has, this one action is enough to deserve support.

In the grand scheme of things, it doesn't really matter whether the GOP comes into power and wastes X billion dollars on their brand of pork (defense contractors, corporations) or the Dems remain in power and waste Y billion on theirs (welfare, public employee pensions, wall street). But having allowed private space industry to blossom will change the course of history, THAT matters.

Re:The real issues are the neo-cons in CONgress (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#40394209)

Well, I have to say that both major parties suck. I can not stand either one. The real problem is that presidents do not really make that many decisions. Most are made by the men/women that they surround themselves by. Best example, is that Griffin pushed NASA's 90's program, that the neo-cons killed. Griffin really is the one that got private space moving fast. Sadly, he just wanted it as a back-up, and never fully realized that private space is EXACTLY what is needed to stop CONgress from killing things like going BEO.

As such, I note that romney has surrounded himself with some of the worst that came out of reagan's and W's admins and no doubt will pick up more of that kind of trash. It is the LAST thing that America needs. Now, I am not a fan of O's, but I think that he is doing a better job than what the neo-cons have done to America. this is probably the best illustration of that. [cnn.com] . Now, our biggest 2 issues are keeping the economy going, rebalancing the budget, AND stopping CONgress from being so corrupt. And yes, CONgress is CORRUPT. Horribly corrupt. All of them.

Sink, not source (1)

mbone (558574) | more than 2 years ago | (#40390475)

Shackleton is a sink for ice (i.e., it traps it there), not a source.

It'll save a lot of weight on future missions (1)

Grayhand (2610049) | more than 2 years ago | (#40390511)

Astronauts won't have to bring their own snowcones.

Re:It'll save a lot of weight on future missions (1)

TarPitt (217247) | more than 2 years ago | (#40394075)

No but they will need to bring tequila, limes, and a blender

An easier to understand number (5, Funny)

mfwitten (1906728) | more than 2 years ago | (#40390611)

That represents a millionth of a meter, or less than one ten-thousandth of an inch.

For those of you who are having trouble visualizing this: That's about a little more than 9 billionths of a football field (on the short number scale [wikipedia.org] , of course).

There is an entire civilization on the dark side (1)

cod3r_ (2031620) | more than 2 years ago | (#40390797)

NASA has been keeping it a secret for some time. They've already set up a moon base and populated the moon. Everyone just lives on the darkside of it.

Everyone Knows... (1)

sociocapitalist (2471722) | more than 2 years ago | (#40390823)

It's not ice. It's white cheese...

Which moon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40390833)

How come other planets have names for their moons, but Earth's moon is just called the Moon? Same thing with the sun.

We have a very Earth-centric view of the universe.

Apollo 18 (0)

THE_WELL_HUNG_OYSTER (2473494) | more than 2 years ago | (#40390907)

Isn't Shackleton's Crater where the Apollo 18 crew did their filming?

They'd better watch out. (1)

durgledoggy (1931480) | more than 2 years ago | (#40391099)

That's probably where the Moon Nazis have their base.

Why is NASA looking? (1)

bipedstites (1912516) | more than 2 years ago | (#40391559)

Great, now we can pass that information on to the Chinese, Russians, Indians and who ever else has plans for the moon. NASA just can't stop bleeding money. They have outsourced their space program to the Russians and hope that SpaceX will put NASA stickers on the Falcon rockets. Please NASA, no more alien life headline grabbing press releases and come up with a concrete mission.

Ice on the moon? (1)

bobbied (2522392) | more than 2 years ago | (#40391821)

How on earth?? Oh.. It's not on the earth, we have ice out in space, on an otherwise solid rock. I'm not understanding first how and when this water actually made it to this location. I see a serious problem here. Ice in space, even at very low temperatures, tends to turn to vapor and disappear. It may happen at very low rates when you are in the shade on the moon, but it will turn to vapor. If you stipulate that the moon is a few billion years old and the surface is largely unchanged for the last few million years, any surface ice would surely have vaporized by now.

For this reason, I'm a bit surprised to hear they think this is water. I suppose it is *possible* that some comet dropped off some of it's water in the recent past, but the moon presents a pretty small cross section to capture chunks of comments, and usually such impacts are fairly high energy affairs so even a large chunk of ice is going to leave very little.

I suppose they will have to come up with some theory to explain this, because we *all* know how old things need to be... Forget the guys that are saying 6 thousand years.... We got to have billions or this doesn't work.

Re:Ice on the moon? (1)

Mal-2 (675116) | more than 2 years ago | (#40395491)

How on earth?? Oh.. It's not on the earth, we have ice out in space, on an otherwise solid rock. I'm not understanding first how and when this water actually made it to this location.

How about it being carried there by the same comet fragment that made the crater in the first place?

Re:Ice on the moon? (1)

bobbied (2522392) | more than 2 years ago | (#40399205)

How on earth?? Oh.. It's not on the earth, we have ice out in space, on an otherwise solid rock. I'm not understanding first how and when this water actually made it to this location.

How about it being carried there by the same comet fragment that made the crater in the first place?

Ok.. That's *how* but not *when*. See the problem here is time. If it's been a few million years since the water arrived, there is no way there is any left because ice vaporizes in space.. If there is surface water on the moon, you have to either make the moon pretty young (like a few thousand years) or you have to come up with a way for the water to show up within that time.

So they found..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40398593)

ice in a crater??? So a really big icehole???

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