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NASA moon impact blasted into material that's 5% water


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NASA moon impact blasted into material that's 5% water

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By John Timmer | Last updated October 22, 2010 3:11 PM

About a year ago, NASA held a press conference to describe the preliminary results of its analysis of the LCROSS experiment, in which a spent rocket stage plowed into the Cabeus crater at the Moon's south pole. As the impact took place, there was no visible debris plume, but NASA captured it in the UV and IR portions of the spectrum, and was able to announce that there were "significant quantities" of water seen in the debris. Now that the dust has long since settled, a total of six papers and a perspective that describe the results have appeared in Science.

One of the papers describes the impact site in the Cabeus Crater, and other polar craters like it, based on thermal data from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). The shaded areas near the craters' walls, which never receive sunlight, should in theory be exceptionally cold, with the only heat coming from radiation by the opposing, sunlit crater wall. An LRO instrument confirms that this is actually the case, producing estimates that these "cold traps" are hovering only 38K above absolute zero.

"Temperatures in the Moon

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