Desert Moon

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ITHACA, New York: Visions of the moon as a giant refueling station for future space missions evaporated as a team of scientists said that, contrary to a December report, there's no evidence of ice there. Using new radar images from Puerto Rico's Arecibo Observatory, astronomers from Cornell University determined that what the Defense Department's Clementine space probe showed as waves of frozen water is instead merely the rough surfaces of impact craters. If true, the news could mean a setback for space explorers hoping to use the ice to produce hydrogen and oxygen, the main components of rocket fuel. The team said its findings are more accurate than Clementine's, since the Arecibo Observatory has better resolution than the probe. But the existence of ice on the moon cannot be entirely ruled out, the team acknowledged, until scientists study the lunar surface up close.