Is there enough information to conclude whether or not the water ice in the permanently shaded craters around the poles likely also contains carbon and nitrogen chemicals? (Or any other potentially useful substances not present or hard to access on the moon?)
Edit prompted by DougSpace on December 30, 2015. LCROSS numbers may have been over estimated.
Here's a screen capture from the Moon Society's Facebook page:
I hate to break this bad news but it seems the numbers I reported below are optimistic :(.
I don't have access to the 23 Sept. 2011 edition of Science. If anyone can access it and report back, I'd be grateful.
The Oct. 2010 Science Journal looked at Lcross ejecta. Here are some of the percentages:
I've done an examination of the literature on the subject, and I can't find any mention of any volatiles except for water ice, but there are indicators that there should be others. Let's examine what characteristics of volatiles should be on the Lunar surface.
- It would have to be solid in a vacuum at low temperatures, about 100K.
- The material should be abundant, rare materials are unlikely to have this performance.
A volatile will vaporize at the temperature of the moon in the daylight. Let's call that about room temperature, 300K. It could also vaporize by the presence of sunlight.
- Water is an obvious candidate for such, as it is available throughout the solar system, and meets the temperature requirements.
- Nitrogen wouldn't remain a solid, and thus wouldn't solidify.
- Carbon Dioxide would probably remain frozen, it will remain solid in the realm of 100 degrees.
- Carbon Monoxide probably won't remain stable, it doesn't seem to remain solid with an extremely low temperature.
Bottom line, there likely won't be many others, but I suspect Carbon Dioxide would also be at the surface in permanently shadowed craters on the Moon.