Tuesday, March 02, 2010
Today has given us some unsurprising, but still big news - not only the south pole but also the north pole on the Moon has a lot of water ice hidden in the craters. This latest discovery is also thanks to India's Chandrayaan-1 probe, which was instrumental in confirming the creation of H2O in the soil throughout the Moon as was announced in September last year to great interest.
So is there any difference between the south and north pole in terms of ease of colonization? There's one difference that you can read about here. The lunar poles have areas that receive near continuous sunlight, and the actual number is up to 86% of the time in the south and 89% of the time in the north. That may seem like a small difference but remember we're talking about a 28-day cycle, and a difference of 3% there works out to an extra 20 hours of sunlight (and 20 hours less night to get through as well).
South pole (86% day, 14% night): 578 hours of day, 94 hours of night
North pole (89% day, 11% night): 598 hours of day, 74 hours of night
Also important would be the terrain, communication with the Earth, and easy access to areas in the Earth's radio shadow that could be used for scientific research. The peak of Malapert in the south though is a pretty tough location to beat.
For an article from last year on why to explore the Moon first instead of Mars, see here.