A team of scientists found a reservoir of water on the surface of the moon

Spacecraft for the Chang’e-5 mission (Reuters/Tingshu Wang)

A team of scientists They discovered new traces of water in crystals From the collision found by the Chinese mission in the lunar soil Chang’e 5 (CE5)According to a study published in the specialized journal Natural Earth Sciences.

The group led by Professor Sen Hu of the Chinese Academy of Sciences has found that these crystals are likely to be a new water reservoir on the moon, recording the entry and exit of water derived from the solar wind and acting as buffers for the lunar water cycle. Surface.

As the publication states, the surface waters of this satellite are of interest to the scientific community for the possibility of using them “in situ” in future space exploration missions.

After numerous lunar excursions have confirmed the presence of structural water or in the form of ice on the Moon, there is no doubt that the star contains the element found on its surface, though to a much lesser extent than on Earth.

Scientists believe that there must be water reserves that have not yet been identified Which has the ability to isolate the lunar surface water cycle, i.e. able to keep water on the satellite and not escape into space.

One member of the Chinese team suggested that these impact crystals, which are ubiquitous in lunar soil, could be candidates for investigation of “unidentified water layers or reserves.”

Crystals collected by the Chang’e 5 mission – which landed on the Moon in December 2020 to collect lunar samples for two days before returning to Earth – They have “homogeneous chemical compositions and smooth surfaces”.

Lunar samples from the Chang’e-5 mission of China’s lunar exploration program during an exhibition at the National Museum in Beijing (RUTERS/Tingshu Wang)
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It is characterized by an abundance of water, and its composition reflects that this probably comes from the solar wind.

These are effect crystals They acted like sponges to prevent the lunar surface water cycle.According to the conclusions of the researchers.

It also consists of small meteorites that bombard the lunar surface, which lacks the protection of the atmosphere. The heat of the impact melts the surface material, which cools to form round crystals the thickness of a strand of hair.

After further investigation, scientists decided so The hydrogen needed to make water comes from the solar windwhich pulls charged particles throughout the solar system.

“These results indicate that the influence of crystals on the surface of the moon and other airless bodies in the solar system are able to store water derived from the solar wind and release it into space,” said Professor Hu.

The other component in water, oxygen, makes up nearly half of the moon, though it is trapped in rocks and minerals. This means that the solar wind can equally contribute to the formation of water in other bodies in the solar system that lack an atmosphere, such as Mercury or asteroids, he told the news agency. France Press agency Mahesh AnandProfessor of Planetary Science and Exploration at the Open University in the United Kingdom.

According to the study, Crystals can make up between three and five percent of the lunar soil.

He added that a rough calculation indicates that there could be about a third of a trillion tons of water inside all the glass beads on the moon.

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According to Anand, a gentle heat of around 100°C is enough to get the water out of the pearls.

The Chinese Academy study was conducted in cooperation with Nanjing University, the Open University, the Natural History Museum, the University of Manchester and the University of Science and Technology of China.

Chinese researchers working with the Chang’e-5 lunar return capsule (China Daily via Reuters)

For a long time it was believed that the moon was dry, but in the past decades many missions have shown this Water is present on the surface and trapped within the minerals.

Anand asserted that water molecules can be seen “jumping on the lunar surface” when it is sunny. “But we didn’t know exactly where it came from,” explains the co-author of the study, published in the journal Natural Earth Sciences.

Although there is still much to be researched, heating and processing this material could provide water – or even oxygen – for the “explors of tomorrow” to help them search “for other worlds in a sustainable and responsible way.”

Automated drill Prospect The European Space Agency, which is scheduled to launch to the moon in 2025, could be the first to be able to collect and extract water in this way, according to Anand.

the mission Viber NASA, scheduled for launch late next year, will head to the moon’s south pole with the goal of analyzing water ice.

And in the coming years, NASA’s Artemis mission It plans to return humans to the lunar surface for the first time since 1972.

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(with info from EFE and AFP)

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Lovell Loxley

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