The Japanese spacecraft Kaguya finds no visible evidence that a lunar south pole crater holds ice
Don’t bother bringing ice skates to the moon’s Shackleton crater.
The crater sits at the moon’s south pole and never receives direct sunlight. Even though it is chilly enough to contain frozen water, it has no visible patches of ice, new images from a Japanese spacecraft reveal.
Planetary scientists have hotly debated for years whether craters on Earth’s moon contain substantial reserves of frozen water. Although it could be difficult to dig out the ice, especially if it’s mixed with soil, the frozen material could provide hydrogen fuel or drinking water for lunar settlers.
Because the sun makes a shallow angle at the moon’s poles, the bottoms of polar craters there never directly see the light of day and are an ideal place to trap frozen water. In 1994, the Clementine spacecraft bounced radio waves off the moon and found tentative evidence for frozen water inside polar craters, although more recent radar studies from Ea