back to article Spacecraft spots possible signs of frozen water on the Moon

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has captured evidence that shows that parts of the Moon may be coated in thin bits of frost, and it could help scientists unlock the mystery of how water ended up on Earth. The LRO has been in orbit since 2009, collecting vital information to aid space agencies in planning future human and …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Water, water everywhere...

    "Some scientists believe water on Earth might have been brought by icy asteroids or comets."

    I can't quite see the need for Earth's water to have been brought here by icy asteroids and comets. The entire Solar System, including both the Earth and all those icy asteroids and comets, was all made from the same cloud of stuff, so if water was present to make the icy asteroids and comets it would also have been present to be incorporated in the Earth as it formed.

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: Water, water everywhere...

      I'm a planetary scientist but I seem to remember some that were reporting that it was very hard to model the large amount of water that Earth has on its crust compared to everything else and in particular the moon. This got particularly interesting to model if, as supposed, the early Earth/Moon got hit by a very large object splitting them into the two co-orbiting objects that are now the Earth and Moon.

      There are quite a few ice asteroid type bodies out there in the solar system which would individually deliver a very large amount of additional surface water to the Earth therefore these bodies could be responsible for what we have now.

      1. OnlyMortal

        Re: Water, water everywhere...

        Could the earth have been formed further out in the solar system and then crashed into what is now the moon rather than what TV always shows as something crashing into earth?

        Guessing the metals on earth indicate otherwise

        1. Mike Richards Silver badge

          Re: Water, water everywhere...

          I'm not a physicist, but I'd guess it'd be hard to circularise the Earth's orbit if it had once been in an elliptical orbit and crashed into a smaller Mars-sized object. It's much easier to explain the Earth-Moon system if you let an object about 10% the mass of the Earth do all the colliding.

          Now I can go back to being a geologist... it's worth remembering the impact between Theia and the proto-Earth was just the last large impact we have evidence for here on Earth. All of the models of Solar System formation predict that the very early Solar System would have had several Mars-sized bodies blundering around the Inner Solar System waiting to crash into one another.

          The Earth of course would have then gone through the literal hell of the Late Heavy Bombardment (4.1-3.8 Ga) in which there would have been several impacts carving out basins in excess of 5000km. This would have been enough to reduce a good part of the Crust to rubble and caused massive, shallow melting. But nearly all the evidence has been destroyed by nearly 4 billion years of tectonism and (in Wales nearly continuous) rain.

      2. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        Re: Water, water everywhere...

        I'm not a planetary scientist

        This is what it should have read :) (and it wasn't even pub o'clock)

    2. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Water, water everywhere...

      I think the theory is that earth for a while was too hot (what with all the lava lakes and such) to retain it's water and therefor it must have been (re)introduced after this time.

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: Water, water everywhere...

        Recently someone found out how the earth creates its own water from chemical reactions under high pressures. Cant find the source at the moment but it pretty much explained where it came from - we had it all along just in a different form.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Water, water everywhere...

        @imanidiot: Although, during the Hadean eon, the Earth would have been too hot for water in liquid form, on the surface and in the atmosphere, the water vapour wouldn't have had the energy to escape Earth's gravity and be lost to space; it would have stayed in the atmosphere until it cooled enough to precipitate out and fall as acid rain. Also, at that time, a lot of the water would have still been in molecular form and trapped in rock, beneath the surface, or bound in a variety of other chemical compounds.

    3. Mike Richards Silver badge

      Re: Water, water everywhere...

      The deuterium/hydrogen ratio of the Earth's oceans does not resemble that of the comets we have examined, so cometary water is probably not a significant source of the Earth's water.

      Instead, Earth's D/H ratio very close to that of minerals in carbonaceous chondrite meteorites which are thought to closely resemble the primordial material of the Solar System. It is also very similar to the D/H ratio found in the very small amounts of hydrogenous material included in lunar samples which suggests the Earth's water was mostly in place when the Moon was formed from the Earth.

  2. jake Silver badge

    Out of curiosity ...

    ... what's the rate of sublimation of water ice at those temperatures?

    1. Steve the Cynic

      Re: Out of curiosity ...

      The Unreliable Source cites the saturated vapour pressure of water as a bit more than 0.001 Pascals at -100 degC, so at -163 it will be lower still. 1 atmosphere is 100,000 Pascals, so that figure for -100 is really, really not much at all.

      (Essential point: it will sublime extremely slowly, if at all.)

  3. Gordon Pryra

    Frozen water?

    Or the mess the yanks left when they went up there?

    1. VinceH
      Thumb Up

      Re: Frozen water?

      "Hey, Buzz, what are you doing in that crater?"

      "Just taking a leak, Neil."

    2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Frozen water?

      Obviously not. Urine would not reflect as bright as water, and with a distinct yellowish glow.

      1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

        Re: Frozen water?

        "Obviously not. Urine would not reflect as bright as water, and with a distinct yellowish glow."

        You would be correct if the American astronauts had been drinking British beer but American Budweiser is virtually water so it's a reasonable assumption. Astro-piss, just recycled Budweiser - that was back in the days when Americans actually believed in recycling and climate change.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Frozen water?

        Never eat the yellow snow!

        1. VinceH

          Re: Frozen water?

          The joke's past now, but I should probably have made it a "marking our territory on behalf the USA" type thing. Ho hum.

    3. MrReal

      Re: Frozen water?

      Mess? Nah, the studio guys cleared that all away years ago ;)

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We're whalers on the moon

    We carry our harpoons

    But their ain't no whales

    So we tell tall tales

    And sing our whaling tune

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: We're whalers on the moon

      Giant steps are what you take...

      (Ok, not exactly the Wailers Whalers)

      1. LoPath

        Re: We're whalers on the moon

        Call The Police.....

  5. druck Silver badge


    “We found that the coldest places near the Moon’s south pole are also the brightest places – brighter than we would expect from soil alone"

    There is no soil on the moon, as it lacks any (known) organic material. The correct word would be 'regolith'.

    1. MJB7

      Re: Soil?

      According to Wikipedia (an admittedly unreliable source), "standard usage among lunar scientists is to ignore that distinction."

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The WATER on The MOOON is GODS TEARS as He crieS looking AT THE EVIL MEN and women do in HIS NAME. ESPECIALLY democrats a who are all WHOOORS OF SATAN. WE are approaching end OF DAYS WHERE THE FIVE ANGLES Of the APUCKOLAPSE will appear PROBABLY IM DENVER and will BLOW OFF in peoples FACES. With TRUMPETS. IT might Be FOUR ANGELS I will Guggle IT LATER.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: GOD!

      I'd leave that bottle of moonshine and walk away slowly.

      1. Chemical Bob

        Re: GOD!

        "I'd leave that bottle of moonshine and walk away slowly."

        I don't think he is able to walk after drinking that stuff...

    2. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: GOD!

      Is Trump drunk texting again?

    3. jake Silver badge

      Re: GOD!

      Bad troll. No cookie.

    4. Fatman

      Re: GOD!

      Jim, have you been ODing on LDS lately!??????

    5. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: GOD!

      " THE FIVE ANGLES Of the APUCKOLAPSE" will likely start with the Pentagon.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: GOD!

      Up-voted just for making me laugh, which I assume was the intent.

  7. MT Field


    It's resting place. Do not go there.

  8. Chemical Bob

    FAKE NEWS!!!

    If NASA really had something orbiting the moon, they'd have found the WW2 bomber by now!

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Making America's Moon ice great again!

    Proof that climate change is an Illuminati plot !!

    - Covfefe

  10. Faux Science Slayer

    "Earth's Missing Geothermal Flux" at FauxScienceSlayer

    Water on Earth is from fission byproducts....astroids and super calderas blow water

    into space which are attracted to the Moon, and boiled off on the equator....

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