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Akber Malik Natural Science I: Einstein’s Universe NYT Assignment NYT: Lunar Craters May Be Chilliest Spots in Solar System NASA launched a moon orbiter, called the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, in June. Its mission is to map the surface of the moon. Though launched three months ago, the orbiter’s mission actually started this week. NASA is interested in this because, of course, it would be useful to have a more detailed understanding of the surface of the moon. Data from the orbiter’s thermal measurements show that temperatures during the day on the moon reach around 220 degrees Fahrenheit, while temperatures at night reach the opposite extreme. But the lunar craters are a different story; since the craters are so large, their bottoms lie in permanent darkness. Thus, they never really warm above 400 degrees Fahrenheit. These extremely cold environments have held ice deposits for billions of years, and these deposits could prove useful to future lunar expeditions as a source of water, and when molecules are separated, oxygen and hydrogen. The ice also
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Unformatted text preview: could also give scientists a very detailed record of comet impacts, which could give scientists more information about the early conditions of the solar system and universe. Another instrument that is a part of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter detects slow-moving neutrons, indicating the presence of hydrogen. The orbiter is finding that there is hydrogen located in the craters, as well as outside of the craters, while some craters appear to have no oxygen at all. Dr. Richard Vondrak of NASA believes that this means that the hydrogen-containing molecule (water, methane, etc.) could be lying under the Moon’s surface. The sides of craters is very rough terrain which means it could be very difficult to get to material at the bottom of the craters. The orbiter will continue its mission to gather information about the moon in order to prepare for astronauts’ next visit to the moon. Once the orbiter’s primary mission is complete, it will gather information for scientists....
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