Mini-SAR map of the Circular Polarization Ratio (CPR) of the north pole of the Moon. Fresh, â€œnormalâ€ craters (red circles) show high values of CPR inside and outside their rims. This is consistent with the distribution of rocks and ejected blocks around fresh impact features, indicating that the high CPR here is surface scattering. The â€œanomalousâ€ craters (green circles) have high CPR within, but not outside their rims. Their interiors are also in permanent sun shadow. These relations are consistent with the high CPR in this case being caused by water ice, which is only stable in the polar dark cold traps. We estimate over 600 million cubic meters (1 cubic meter = 1 metric ton) of water in these features.
Using data from a NASA radar that flew aboard India’s Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft, scientists have detected ice deposits near the moon’s north pole. NASA’s Mini-SAR instrument, a lightweight, synthetic aperture radar, found more than 40 small craters with water ice. The craters range in size from 1 to 9 miles (2 to15 km) in diameter. Although the total amount of ice depends on its thickness in each crater, it’s estimated there could be at least 1.3 trillion pounds (600 million metric tons) of water ice.