Scientists have claimed to have found water in liquid form on the surface of the Moon. The discovery was announced after the Chinese probe Chang’e-5 analyzed rock and dust samples collected.
This is the first time that water has been physically detected on the Moon from soil samples in this state. By then, many studies had already indicated its presence – however, all were based on remote measurements or orbital observations.
The Chang’e-5 mission was launched in November 2020. Less than a month later, a capsule carrying 1.7 kilograms of material from our natural satellite landed in the Mongolian desert. Such operations had not been conducted since the Soviet Luna 24 mission in 1976.
The cargo was sent to China for laboratory analysis. More than a year later, a study recently published in the journal Science Advances confirmed that liquid water was found at a ratio of 120 ppm (parts per million) in soil and 180 ppm in rocks – that is, compared to water. I was very dry. Earth’s. Earth’s.
According to the researchers, it was the solar winds that contributed most of the moisture to the lunar soil by carrying hydrogen there. Additional water from rocks may originate from within the satellite in deeper basaltic layers.
The study suggests that the Moon became dry after a certain period, probably due to the loss of gases from its mantle reservoir.
Before Chang’e-5, about 400 kilograms of material was collected from the lunar surface by astronauts on NASA’s Apollo mission and the Soviet Union’s Luna robotic probe. However, all these samples were of much older rocks and soils, which were formed more than three billion years ago.
The Chinese mission targeted an elevated volcanic region called Mons Rumkar, estimated to be between 1.2 and 1.3 billion years old – one of the most recent basaltic regions on the Moon. Manufacturing process of our satellite.
The analysis will also help scientists calibrate the “stopwatch” used to calculate the age of rocky planetary surfaces in the Solar System. This is usually done by counting craters – the more craters, the older – but are variable.
The confirmed presence of water could be important for future missions and even the establishment of an inhabited Moon base. Through water (H2O), it is possible to extract oxygen (O2) for our existence and hydrogen (H2) for spacecraft fuel – acting as a kind of future “pit stop“On the way to Mars, for example.
However, it is not just China that plans to include the satellite. Half a century after the trip that first took us to the Moon in 1969, it’s in vogue for NASA again. In the modern age of space exploration, the US agency wants men – including the first woman – to surface again by 2025 with the Artemis program.
For this year, several missions with unmanned probes are planned: at least three from the United States, one from the United Kingdom, one from Japan and one from Russia. The Chinese will continue their experiments with the Chang’e-6 and Chang’e-7.