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Une image de la Lune acquise par le satellite Pléiades Neo 3 le 23 juin 2021. C’est presque la Pleine Lune et elle est presque au périgée. © Pléiades Neo, Airbus DS 2021

First make sure that there are CO2 “cold traps” on its surface

After several decades of uncertainty, a team of American researchers confirmed the existence of “cold traps” on the moon’s surface, potentially containing solid carbon dioxide. This discovery could have important implications for future lunar missions.

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The Chinese Space Agency invites us to recreate the Chang’e 5 landing on the visible face of the Moon on December 1, 2020. The craft landed in the vicinity of storms on a rapid sample-collecting mission. This is the first time in more than 40 years that lunar rocks have been returned to Earth.

Earth’s natural satellite moon It is the extraterrestrial body closest to us, which makes its exploration relatively easy, and motivates humans to double their trips there, with the distant goal of establishing a viable and permanent colony there. These future missions will likely require the resources to be exploited immediately, prompting scientists to conduct preliminary surveys.

Cold carbon dioxide trapped on the moon’s south pole?

Although planetary scientists have already been advancing the existence of these cold traps for several decades, this new study, by a team of American researchers, is the first to establish and map their existence.

At the Antarctic level, scientists made their discovery: due to the low inclination of the Antarctic rotation axis. moon (about 1.5 degrees), some craters in the polar regions are constantly shaded, protecting these regions from the sun at temperatures below 60 degrees Kelvin (below -200 degrees Celsius!), even cooler than the surface Pluto. in these areas, satiate It can exist forever in the state of ice, even during the extreme temperatures of the lunar summer.

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To determine the coldest regions on the moon’s surface, scientists relied on 11 years of surface temperature measurements taken by the lunar radiometer. fortune teller, an instrument aboard NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. Their results indicate the concentration of cold traps around the south pole of the Moon, and the total area of ​​these traps will be approximately 204 square kilometers. However, although the presence of carbon dioxide is highly suspected, future lunar missions will be necessary to accurately analyze the bottom composition of these craters.

Implications for future lunar missions?

If frozen carbon dioxide is already present on the lunar surface, it could be exploited to produce fuel or materials for long lunar missions. Duration : future lunar explorers can use this resource to producesteel or fuel from Rocket or vital materials, necessary for the continued existence on the surface of the Moon (whether robotic or human). This possibility of exploitation has already provoked the envy of many American and European companies, and is likely to have repercussions on international policy for managing space resources.

From a more scientific point of view, lunar carbon could also help researchers answer long-unanswered questions, such as the origin of water and other volatiles on Earth. Earth and Moon System.

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