Lack of Exposed Ice Inside Lunar South Pole Shackleton Crater

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Science  07 Nov 2008:
Vol. 322, Issue 5903, pp. 938-939
DOI: 10.1126/science.1164020

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The inside of Shackleton Crater at the lunar south pole is permanently shadowed; it has been inferred to hold water-ice deposits. The Terrain Camera (TC), a 10-meter-resolution stereo camera onboard the Selenological and Engineering Explorer (SELENE) spacecraft, succeeded in imaging the inside of the crater, which was faintly lit by sunlight scattered from the upper inner wall near the rim. The estimated temperature of the crater floor, based on the crater shape model derived from the TC data, is less than ∼90 kelvin, cold enough to hold water-ice. However, at the TC's spatial resolution, the derived albedo indicates that exposed relatively pure water-ice deposits are not on the crater floor. Water-ice may be disseminated and mixed with soil over a small percentage of the area or may not exist at all.

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