Using data from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), scientists, including Hawaiʻi Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) researcher Paul Lucey, have identified bright areas in craters near the moon’s south pole that are cold enough to have frost present on the surface.
The new evidence comes from an analysis that combined surface temperatures with information about how much laser light is reflected off the moon’s surface from one of the LRO instruments.
“We found that the coldest places near the moon’s south pole are also the brightest places—brighter than we would expect from soil alone—and that might indicate the presence of surface frost,” said Elizabeth Fisher, the lead author of the study, published in Icarus. Fisher carried out the data analysis while doing research with Lucey at HIGP after earning her undergraduate degree. She is now a graduate student at Brown University.