Dark craters on the moon are getting more carbon dioxide than expected

Dark craters on the moon are getting more carbon dioxide than expected
Dark craters on the moon are getting more carbon dioxide than expected

In the new study, scientists presented an analysis of the state of chemicals located in dark craters on the moon's surface, as well as the conditions required to extract them as resources during future missions.

The axis of rotation of the Earth is tilted to the plane of the orbit of our planet around the Sun, therefore sometimes the northern or southern hemisphere of the planet is turned to our star - and this is usually called the season in the corresponding hemisphere. The moon has almost no tilt of the axis of rotation, so there are craters near its poles, where sunlight almost never gets. If vapors of volatile compounds penetrate into these craters, then they remain in these craters forever. Therefore, scientists call dark craters in the vicinity of the Moon's poles "cold traps."

In a new study, a team of planetary scientists from Johns Hopkins University, USA, analyzed the results of observations of the lunar surface with NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), indicating the presence of solid carbon dioxide, or carbon dioxide, in a dark crater called Faustini. To assess the likelihood that this unidentified substance is carbon dioxide, the researchers set themselves the task of understanding how much carbon dioxide is required to take a given amount of this material in solid form inside the "cold trap". The authors used a probabilistic analysis technique called Monte Carlo simulation to determine the amount of starting material required. The model also included the influence of the decay of molecules under the influence of sunlight on the surface of the Moon before they reach the "cold trap".

Modeling results showed that of the total amount of carbon dioxide on the lunar surface, about 15 to 20 percent of it eventually ends up on the bottom of dark craters. These numbers turned out to be significantly higher compared to the results of previous calculations, so they came as a surprise to researchers, given also the relatively small surface area of the "cold traps".

The study was presented by Dana Hurley, a planetary scientist at Johns Hopkins University, at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting last week in San Francisco.

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