Archive for May, 2022

Credit: B612 Foundation/Asteroid Institute/Inside Outer Space screengrab

The Asteroid Institute, a program of the B612 Foundation, announced today it is using a groundbreaking computational technique running on its Asteroid Discovery Analysis and Mapping (ADAM) cloud-based astrodynamics platform to discover and track asteroids.

The upshot: The Minor Planet Center has confirmed and added the first 104 of these newly discovered asteroids to its registry. That opens the door for Asteroid Institute-supported researchers to submit thousands of additional new discoveries. 

Credit: B612 Foundation/Asteroid Institute

Massive computation

ADAM is an open-source computational system that runs astrodynamics algorithms using  the scalable computational and storage capabilities in Google Compute Engine, Google Cloud Storage, and Google Kubernetes Engine.

THOR (Tracklet-less Heliocentric Orbit Recovery) is a novel algorithm used to discover these new asteroids. It links points of light in different sky images that are consistent with asteroid orbits.

“With THOR running on ADAM, any telescope with an archive can now become an asteroid search telescope,” said Asteroid Institute Executive Director Ed Lu. “We are using the power of massive computation to enable not only more discoveries from existing telescopes, but also to find and track asteroids in historical images of the sky that had gone previously unnoticed because they were never intended for asteroid searches,” he said in a press statement.

The threat of Near Earth Objects (NEOs).
Credit: NASA

Collaborative effort

Danica Remy, President of B612, said this new technological milestone was achieved through a collaborative effort with the University of Washington and Google Cloud.

“Rather than looking to the sky, we’ve developed a way to look at historical data sets to discover asteroids and calculate their orbits,” Remy said in an email. “This key technology we have been building lays the foundation for future commerce, and exploration in space as well as to help protect our home planet from asteroid impacts.”

NOIRLab’s current and potential future system of observatories and data-driven exploration tools.

What is next for ADAM/THOR?

The discoveries announced today were made while searching only a small fraction – less than 0.5% – of the National Science Foundation’s NOIRLab dataset – a dataset that’s produced by ground-based, nighttime optical and infrared astronomy facilities.

Asteroid Institute researchers are already at work searching the rest of the NOIRLab data set for asteroids as well as looking at mining other datasets. “With ADAM/THOR, we expect to discover and contribute orbits for tens of thousands of previously missed objects,” according to an Asteroid Institute factsheet.

Go to this informative video regarding this effort at:

For more information on the B612 Foundation and the Asteroid Institute, go to:

Long March-5B carrier rocket arrives at Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site.
Credit: CGTN/Inside Outer Space screengrab


Last weekend was a busy time at two of China’s launch sites as the country gears up for two key missions to fully build out its first space station.

A Long March-5B carrier rocket arrived at the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site on the southern island of Hainan. In July, the rocket will orbit the first space laboratory of China’s space station – the Wentian module (Quest for the Heavens).

Meanwhile, at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China’s Gobi Desert, a Long March-2F carrier rocket with the Shenzhou-14 spacecraft was rolled out to the launch tower, ready for its takeoff, reportedly June 5.

Shenzhou-14 mission set for early June liftoff.
Credit: China Media Group(CMG)/China Central Television (CCTV)/China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC)/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Relay baton

The Shenzhou-14’s three-person crew is slated to stay in China’s space station for six months and then pass the relay baton to a Shenzhou-15 crew at year’s end, reports the China Global Television Network (CGTN).

Credit: China National Space Administration (CNSA)/China Media Group(CMG)/China Central Television (CCTV)/Inside Outer Space screengrab

A Long March-5B will also be tasked with delivering the second space lab named Mengtian (Dreaming of the Heavens) to dock with the space station in October. By then, the space station will form a T-shaped structure and be ready for the following missions, CGTN adds.







Go to this video showing a Long March-5B arriving at the south China launch site at:

Curiosity Mast Camera (Mastcam) Left image taken on Sol 3485, May 27, 2022.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover at Gale Crater has just begun performing Sol 3489 duties.

Intrepid rover engineers again successfully navigated Curiosity a little higher up Mount Sharp – roughly 16 feet (5 meters) and 131 feet (40 meters) on the ground, away from our previous location, reports Lucy Thompson, Planetary Geologist at University of New Brunswick; Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada.

“The terrain beneath the rover included striated, dusty bedrock and sand ripples with coarse lag deposits,” Thompson adds.

Curiosity Mast Camera (Mastcam) Left image taken on Sol 3485, May 27, 2022.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Dusty bedrock

As a member of the geology/mineralogy planning team and the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) payload uplink lead today, Thompson chose several interesting areas in the workspace for potential arm, contact science.

“The rover engineers assessed these targets before we settled on a representative bedrock area.” The plan calls for two APXS observations on the dusty bedrock, and on a brushed area, with accompanying Mars Hand Lens Imager photos of (“Pitinga”).

“This will help us assess the effect of the ubiquitous dust cover on APXS compositional analyses of the bedrock. The measurement of the brushed bedrock also constitutes part of our systematic monitoring of bedrock composition with APXS every 10 meters of elevation gain, as we climb Mount Sharp,” Thompson points out.

Dust Removal Tool action. Photo taken by Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), produced on Sol 3488, May 30, 2022.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

This is important as the rover is in a region identified from orbit as showing a change in mineralogy and, potentially, the environment within Gale crater. The brushed target will be imaged with Mastcam, which will also image the two rock targets being analyzed with the Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS): “Rio Pipi” – dusty bedrock in the ground, and “Barama” – layered bedrock face; as well as some crevices within the sand and rock in the workspace.

Mesmerizing view

“Looking beyond the immediate workspace, the view ahead is mesmerizing with interesting textures and structures both in the near- and far-field,” Thompson reports.

Curiosity Mast Camera (Mastcam) Right image acquired on Sol 3485, May 26, 2022.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Mastcam and the ChemCam Remote Micro-Imager (RMI) is slated to image the platy, darker, layered ledge in the middle of the image in more detail, but offset to the right (”Dukwari”).

“Mastcam will also image a cliff off to the right of the rover to document textures, structures and layering (“Cantarrana”). Once Curiosity has executed all the targeted science observations, the rover engineers are planning a drive towards the lip, Thompson adds. “That should afford us a better view to plan upcoming drives as we continue climbing Mount Sharp.”

Curiosity Mast Camera (Mastcam) Right image acquired on Sol 3485, May 26, 2022.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Dust storm

The environmental scientists planned several observations to continue monitoring changes in atmospheric conditions and the current dust storm within Gale crater.

These included: Navcam line of sight images, a large dust devil survey, suprahorizon movies, a dust devil movie, and a zenith movie; and Mastcam basic and full tau observations.

After a hopefully successful drive, the robot will image the terrain beneath the rover wheels with the Mars Descent Imager (MARDI).

The Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) Instrument Suite instrument is also to be running a fake handoff and a blank solid sample evolved gas experiment.

Standard Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS), Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN) and Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD) activities round out this plan, Thompson concludes.

Curiosity Mars Descent Imager (MARDI) photo taken on Sol 3486, May 28, 2022.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Credit: China Media Group(CMG)/China Central Television (CCTV)/China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC)/Inside Outer Space screengrab

The next step in China’s in-construction space station is being readied for liftoff.

The Shenzhou-14 crewed spaceship and a Long March-2F carrier rocket have been transferred to the launching area — the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China — the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) announced Sunday.

Shenzhou-14 will send a trio of astronauts to China’s space station core module Tianhe in June [reportedly June 5] for a six-month mission.

Since the successful landing of the Shenzhou-13 spacecraft in April, the personnel at the launch site have been busy with upcoming missions.

Credit: CMG/CCTV/CASC/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Busy schedule

With Shenzhou-14 atop its booster, the combination slowly left the final assembly test building and approached the launch tower after traveling 1.5 kilometers on seamless rail especially built to prevent vibration.

After traveling about one and a half hours, the combo moved closer to the launch tower, and the rotary platform slowly closed.

Credit: CMG/CCTV/CASC/Inside Outer Space screengrab

From the launch of the Tianhe core module of China’s space station in April 2021, China will have completed the launch of the Wentian and Mengtian lab modules, four cargo spacecraft and four manned spaceships by the end of 2022 to complete the construction of the country’s space station.

At China’s Wenchang Space Launch Center, south China’s Hainan Province, the Long March 5B Y3 carrier rocket has arrived. It will loft the Wentian (Quest for the Heavens) lab, scheduled to take place in July.

Vertical transfer

“To guarantee a safe vertical transfer, we need to set limits on both the wind speed and transfer speed. For instance, the speed of wind at the 100 meters level above the ground must not exceed 11 meters per second, and the launching platform must be moved at a speed no more than 30 meters per minute,” Zheng Yonghuang, chief engineer of the launcher center, told China Central Television (CCTV).

Credit: CMG/CCTV/CASC/Inside Outer Space screengrab

While astronauts were stationed at the Tiangong space station, the Shenzhou-14 spacecraft and the Long March-2F Y14 carrier rocket was on standby as a backup in a vertical position on the ground. Since being rolled into the launch center last August, the rocket had remained on its post for more than 280 days.

Launch drills

Pre-launch checks and joint tests will now be carried out.

“We will close the rotary platform to provide a good testing environment for the rocket-spaceship combination. Then we will conduct functionality checks on the combination as well as whole-system pre-launch drills with the participation of the astronauts to ensure that the system is in the best condition. Finally we will fuel the rocket in preparation for the pre-launch procedures,” Zheng told CCTV.

In a related development, a Long March-5B Y3 rocket, which will be used to launch the Wentian lab module of the Chinese space station, arrived at its launch site in south China’s Hainan Province on Sunday, according to the China Manned Space Engineering Office.

Meanwhile, China’s space tracking ship Yuanwang-3 set sail last Thursday for its first voyage this year from a port in east China’s Jiangsu Province. The vessel will carry out its 100th maritime mission during this voyage.

Yuanwang-3 has undertaken more than 90 maritime tracking and monitoring tasks for spacecraft, including Shenzhou spaceships, Chang’e lunar probes, and BeiDou satellites.

Go to these newly issued videos showcasing the rollout of Shenzhou-14 and the Long March-2F booster at:

Stratolaunch’s Talon-A separation test vehicle, TA-0.
Credit: Domenic Moen/Stratolaunch


Stratolaunch has unveiled details of its Talon-A test vehicle, TA-0.

This first version of Talon-A will not be powered in flight. Future iterations will be rocket-powered, autonomous, reusable testbeds carrying customizable payloads at speeds above Mach 5.

TA-0 will continue functional and integration testing in the coming months, culminating in a captive carry and vehicle flight later this year, according to a company statement.

Stratolaunch completed its fifth test flight of Roc, on May 4, 2022. The flight debuted a new pylon that was integrated to the aircraft center wing. The pylon will be used to carry and release Talon hypersonic vehicles.
Credit: Stratolaunch


Flying launch pad

Earlier this month, Stratolaunch performed the successful completion of its fifth flight test of Roc, the world’s largest flying aircraft – a vehicle that sports a 95-foot center wingspan. On that May 4 flight, the pylon was attached to the giant aircraft. That pylon will be used to carry and release Talon-A hypersonic vehicles from the Roc flying launch pad.

Stratolaunch’s Talon-A separation test vehicle, TA-0, mated to Roc carrier aircraft for the first time.
Credit: Stratolaunch



After completing TA-0 separation testing, the company will transition to flying its first hypersonic test vehicle, TA-1. The team has also started fabrication of a third vehicle, TA-2, the first fully reusable hypersonic test vehicle.




For more information on Stratolaunch, go to:

Credit: Big Ear Observatory

In SETI circles, the famed “Wow!” signal appears to be a still-standing indication of detecting other starfolk.

The signal was a strong narrowband radio signal received on August 15, 1977 by Ohio State University’s Big Ear radio telescope.

Astronomer Jerry Ehman discovered the anomaly a few days later while reviewing the recorded data – writing on the computer printout “Wow!” He also circled the string 6EQUJ5 representing the signal’s intensity variation over time. The entire signal sequence lasted for the full 72-second window during which Big Ear was able to pick the signal up.

Big Ear Observatory courtesy of North American Astrophysical Observatory. In late 1997, after almost 40 years of operation, the Big Ear radio ceased operation. The telescope was destroyed in early 1998.

Signal source

New detective work by space devotee Alberto Caballero has been published online in the International Journal of Astrobiology by Cambridge University Press: “An approximation to determine the source of the WOW! Signal.”

Caballero analyzed which of the thousands of stars in the WOW! Signal region could have the highest chance of being the real source of the signal, providing that it came from a star system similar to ours.

A total of 66 G and K-type stars are sampled by Caballero, but only one of them is identified as a potential Sun-like star considering the available information in the Gaia Archive.

2MASS 19281982-2640123, the star with the temperature, radius, and luminosity most similar to the Sun found in the WOW! Signal region, based on data from the Gaia Archive. Source: PanSTARRS/DR1

The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Gaia Archive provides astrometry, photometry, and spectroscopy of more than 1000 million stars in the Milky Way. Gaia, the Global Astrometric Interferometer for Astrophysics, is an ESA observatory spacecraft mission.

Ideal target

“This candidate source, which is named 2MASS 19281982-2640123, therefore becomes an ideal target to conduct observations in the search for techno-signatures,” Caballero explains in his paper.

“Despite this star is located too far for sending any reply in the form of a radio or light transmission, it could be a great target to make observations searching for techno-signatures such as artificial light or satellite transits,” Caballero adds.

To read the research paper — “An approximation to determine the source of the WOW! Signal” – go to:

Work underway atop the Harvard College Observatory.
Credit: Galileo Project/Avi Loeb

Work is underway at Harvard University to bring the search for extraterrestrial technological signatures to a new level of systematic scientific research – and that “level” has reached a rooftop.

Avi Loeb is the head of the Galileo Project, an effort that is complementary to traditional Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence efforts, in that it searches for physical objects, but not electromagnetic signals, associated with extraterrestrial technological equipment.

The intent of the Galileo Project is to bring the search for extraterrestrial technological signatures of Extraterrestrial Technological Civilizations from accidental or anecdotal observations and legends to the mainstream of transparent, validated and systematic scientific research.

Shown at recent Congressional hearing, Video 1 2021 flyby movie showing a purported UAP.
Credit: Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence, and Counterproliferation Subcommittee/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Fishing expedition

Meanwhile, back to the rooftop.

Members of the Galileo Project are busily working on the roof of the Harvard College Observatory and assembling the first telescope system for what Loeb tags as a “fishing expedition.”

“The next step is assembly of the instruments — optical, infrared, radio and audio sensors — in June and then starting to collect data in July and analyzing it with artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning (ML) algorithms,” Loeb told Inside Outer Space.

“If everything works to our satisfaction, we will deploy the system at a better observing site and start making copies of it for other locations. The number of copies will depend on the level of funding we have,” Loeb said. That better site and other locations, “to be decided,” he said.

GIMBAL/“Tic Tac”
Credit: DOD/U.S. Navy/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Search for anomalous characteristics

As one tall pole in how to search for life as we don’t know it, there’s the study of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) observed in the atmosphere whose characteristics and behavior cannot be readily explained in terms of well-known objects and physical processes, explains the Galileo Project website. “That is, all known explanations of aerial, atmospheric, or related phenomena, or even our current knowledge of technological advances, do not adequately explain why these phenomena have been observed.”

To examine the possibility of extraterrestrial origin for UAP, the website adds, “by making observations of objects in and near Earth’s atmosphere, filtering out identifiable objects using AI deep learning algorithms trained on rigorous classification of known objects, and then examining the nature of the remaining data for anomalous characteristics.”

Credit: DOD/U.S. Navy/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Mixed bag

According to Loeb, UAP are most likely a mixed bag. Many may have mundane explanations.

“From a scientific perspective, it makes most sense to focus effort on developing new instrumentation and monitoring objects in a quest for the best possible data. Instead of relying on pilots, the government could use ground-based instruments of higher quality than available in fighter jets or analyze the best satellite data at its possession. I hope they are doing that. We employ a much smaller budget to follow this goal within the Galileo Project,” Loeb told earlier.

The question is whether there is even one object for which human-made or natural origins can be excluded, Loeb notes. In particular, do we have materials from any of them?

“If some data has no national security implications, it should be analyzed by top scientists. I would love to help interpret the highest quality data if shared openly,” Loeb explains.

Curiosity’s location as of Sol 3483. Distance driven at that sol: 17.39 miles/27.98 kilometers.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona


NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover at Gale Crater is now performing Sol 3485 tasks.

Mars researchers have been savoring imagery from the rover, “greeted with a beautiful vista, with well preserved layering and amazing outcrops, and a reminder of just how stunning the planet Mars is,” reports Catherine O’Connell-Cooper, a planetary geologist at the University of New Brunswick; Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada.

Curiosity Mastcam image showing some of the rover’s surroundings. Image taken on Sol 3478, May 19, 2022
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

“Mastcam takes a 360 degree image on a regular basis, and our last one was fairly recently, on sol 3474, but given the stunning views from here, it was suggested that we take another here if we could fit it in,” O’Connell-Cooper adds.

Curiosity Chemistry & Camera (ChemCam) Remote Micro-Imager (RMI) photo taken on Sol 3483, May 24, 2022.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

Gnarly-looking nodules

At the robot’s exploration site, the bedrock is rough, with larger “gnarly” looking nodules or lumps of material, and smaller exposures of nodular free, laminated bedrock. A smooth spot was identified that was just large enough to brush on the laminated material, so the rover’s Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) was set to analyze the brushed surface at “Bamboo Creek” and the unbrushed surface at “Maple Creek.”

Curiosity’s Dust Removal Tool taken by Mast Camera (Mastcam) Right on Sol 3483, May 24, 2022.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

“Pairing targets like this is very beneficial to APXS, allowing us to compare adjacent compositions and to determine if compositional trends are ‘real’ or if dust buildup is obscuring some of the more subtle trends,” O’Connell-Cooper explains.

Curiosity Mast Camera (Mastcam) Left image taken on Sol 3481, May 22, 2022.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Long distance imaging

The Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) was slated to use its Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) instrument to look at the chemistry of Bamboo Creek, and Mastcam is scheduled to use multispectral imaging to look at the brushed spot.

An investigation of the nodular-rich bedrock was to be performed.

The rover’s Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) is on tap to take a suite of images on one of the largest features “Apoteri,” whilst ChemCam and Mastcam take aim at “El Gato.” ChemCam will use the long distance imaging (RMI) to look at some possible Prow-like material in the distance, O’Connell-Cooper reports.

Curiosity Mast Camera (Mastcam) Left image acquired on Sol 3483, May 25, 2022.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Full list of activities

Mastcam has a full list of activities, looking at more possible Prow-like lens material (at “Sierra Maigualida”) in the distance, and characterizing sedimentary structures near the rover (at “Ampa,”) in addition to imaging of Mirador butte and the cliffs to the east of Mirador.

“There is also a special Mastcam multispectral sunset image, timed to document the brightness of the sky when the sun is at a low angle,” O’Connell-Cooper concludes. “But despite this heavy load, the views were just too good to pass up, so Mastcam will get that 360 image here too – keep your eyes peeled for that image!”


Starliner artwork depicts airbag-assisted landing in New Mexico.
Credit: Boeing

With the intravehicular activity (IVA) hatch closed and leak checks now complete, Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner is in a good configuration to return home today.

After several days docked at the International Space Station, Starliner is ready to complete its physical separation.

Approximately one hour before undocking, mission operations teams will conduct a landing zone weather briefing. At 45 minutes before undocking, they will conduct the “go/no go” poll to proceed with undocking operations.

Starliner reentry path.
Credit: Boeing

If a go is given, Starliner will then commence its outbound flyaround maneuver, moving above, around and then behind the ISS before conducting a departure burn and exiting the approach ellipsoid (AE).

Return cargo

Starliner will then start deorbit and landing operations, targeting a touchdown at the U.S. Army’s White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico at 6:49 p.m. ET. Flight controllers are keeping a close eye on winds at the New Mexico landing site.

Credit: Boeing



The Boeing-built Starliner is loaded with 600 pounds of return cargo, including three Nitrogen Oxygen Recharge System (NORS) tanks and hardware supporting tissue engineering research.



For mission updates from Boeing, go to:

Coverage of undocking and landing will start at 2:00 p.m. ET on NASA TV and at

White Sands Missile Range will also be sharing the live-stream on Facebook at:

Credit: ISS/NASA

A new study adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting that the Moon may be a waterlogged world, far more than scientists once thought.

This prospective finding stems from work done by University of Colorado, Boulder researchers that suggests lunar volcanoes may have left another lasting impact on the Moon’s surface: sheets of ice that dot the Moon’s poles and, in some places, could measure dozens or even hundreds of feet thick.

“We envision it as a frost on the Moon that built up over time,” said Andrew Wilcoski, lead author of the new study and a graduate student in the Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences (APS) and the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) at CU Boulder.

Wilcoski and his colleagues — Paul Hayne and Margaret Landis — published their findings this month in The Planetary Science Journal.

Credit: Andrew X. Wilcoski et al 2022 Planet. Sci. J. 3 99

Short-lived, collisional atmospheres

“Our work suggests that the volcanically active period of the early Moon would have been punctuated by short-lived, collisional atmospheres that enabled the efficient sequestration of large quantities (8.2 × 1015 kg) of water ice at the poles and the temporary diurnal availability of water ice and vapor at all latitudes,” states the research paper.

“It’s possible that 5 or 10 meters below the surface, you have big sheets of ice,” added Hayne, assistant professor in APS and LASP in a university press statement.

At its peak, the Moon is estimated to have experienced one eruption every 22,000 years, on average. The research team used computer modeling to track how volcanic gases may have swirled around the Moon, escaping into space over time. The result: conditions may have gotten icy; roughly 41% of the water from volcanoes may have condensed onto the Moon as ice, estimated the scientists.

Maximum surface temperatures measured by the Diviner Lunar Radiometer Experiment and adjusted to account for ∼25% lower solar luminosity at ∼3.5 Ga from ±60° latitude to the poles in the south (left) and the north (right).
Credit: Andrew X. Wilcoski et al 2022 Planet. Sci. J. 3 99

Subsurface burial grounds

As an input, the model uses maximum temperature maps from the Diviner Lunar Radiometer Experiment on board the NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Ice distribution and thickness after a complete 2 Gyr model run. (a, b) Maps from ±60° latitude to the poles in (a) the south and (b) the north. (c, d) Maps from ±80° latitude to the poles in (c) the south and (d) the north. (e, f) Ice deposits remaining after 4 Gyr of sublimation to space.
Credit: Andrew X. Wilcoski et al 2022 Planet. Sci. J. 3 99

The group calculated that about 18 quadrillion pounds of volcanic water could have condensed as ice during that period. That’s more water than currently sits in Lake Michigan. And the research suggests that much of that lunar water may still be present today, but buried under several feet of lunar dust, or regolith, explains the university press statement.

To get down to this ice reservoir, that means drill, baby drill.

Next step

But first, what next?

“One of the next steps for this particular project will be determining what other substances may have condensed out of these volcanic atmospheres and how much of these substances we might expect to find mixed in with volcanically sourced ice,” Wilcoski told Inside Outer Space.

For example, various sulfur species were likely released during volcanic eruptions on the Moon and many may have ended up mixed in with the water ice, Wilcoski said. “It’s important to nail down how much sulfur we’d expect to find in these ice deposits because if we one day drill into this ice and find sulfur then we will be able to tell how much of that ice came from volcanism as opposed to other sources. Additionally, if this ice is one day used as a resource by humans, it’s important to know what else is mixed in with the water.”

Wilcoski added that a longer-term next step that goes beyond just he and his colleagues work is to one day go drill for this ice on the Moon.

“With our work, we’ve shown that it’s possible that volcanism left a significant amount of ice at the lunar poles. If we can find the remnants of these deposits on the Moon today, they will tell a fascinating story of the history of water on the Moon and in our solar system,” Wilcoski concluded.

To access the research paper – “Polar Ice Accumulation from Volcanically Induced Transient Atmospheres on the Moon” – go to: