NASA, using the data collected from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and MESSENGER spacecraft, has revealed that the moon has a significantly large amount of water on its surface than previously thought. The US space agency suggested that the abundance of water can be found in the shallow craters of the moon located in its polar regions.
Scientists also added that similar deposits of ice can be also found in Mercury's polar regions that is the closest planet to sun.
Further studies will try to confirm the existence of water on these shallow craters. Experts believe that the presence of water could extend the time spent by humans in the lunar surface during missions, and it will also help to build a permanent base on the moon.
"We found shallow craters tend to be located in areas where surface ice was previously detected near the south pole of the Moon and inferred this shallowing is most likely due to the presence of buried thick ice deposits," said Lior Rubanenko, a researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the lead author of the study in a recent statement.
The study report published in the journal Nature Geoscience added that the poles of Mercury and moon are the coldest region in the solar system. Due to these space bodies' positioning and spin, sun will never creep high over their horizon in the polar regions. Experts believe that the permanent darkness in this area allows water to stay intact in craters for billions of years.
"We showed Mercury's polar deposits to be dominantly composed of water ice and extensively distributed in both Mercury's north and south polar regions. Mercury's ice deposits appear to be much less patchy than those on the Moon, and relatively fresh, perhaps emplaced or refreshed within the last tens of millions of years," said Nancy Chabot, instrument scientist for MESSENGER's Mercury Dual Imaging System from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland.
Interestingly, the ice on Mercury is expected to be nearly pure, while the water on the moon may be mixed with regolith, most probably in a layered formation.