“The full understanding of the LCROSS data may take some time. The data is that rich,” said Colaprete. “Along with the water in Cabeus, there are hints of other intriguing substances. The permanently shadowed regions of the moon are truly cold traps, collecting and preserving material over billions of years.”
The team took the known near infrared spectral signatures of water and other materials and compared them to the spectra collected by the LCROSS near infrared spectrometer of the impact.
“We were only able to match the spectra from LCROSS data when we inserted the spectra for water,” said Colaprete. “No other reasonable combination of other compounds that we tried matched the observations. The possibility of contamination from the Centaur also was ruled out.”
Additional confirmation came from an emission in the ultraviolet spectrum that was attributed to hydroxyl, one product from the break-up of water by sunlight.
Data from the down-looking near-infrared spectrometer. The red curve shows how the spectra would look for a “grey” or “colorless” warm (230 C) dust cloud. The yellow areas indicate the water absorption bands.
More LCross water find images