Another big discovery? China now claims that there is more water on the moon than previously estimated

After the recent prosecution of explore The Chinese Academy of Scientists, a new mineral on the moon, has found more water on Earth’s natural satellite than previously detected, according to reports.

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According to a recent analysis of lunar rock samples returned from China’s Chang’e 5 rover, there may be more water present than initially thought at the Chinese mission’s landing site.

A study of lunar minerals conducted by scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences concluded that most of this water comes from the sun, based in Hong Kong South China Morning Post. mentioned.

Just a few days ago, on September 9, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) and the China Atomic Energy Authority (CAEA) jointly announce Researchers studying samples returned from the moon by China’s Chang’e-5 mission have discovered a new lunar mineral.

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In addition to being the first robotic sample on the Moon to return since the Soviet Union’s Luna 24 mission in 1976, the Chinese mission also used its probe to report the first-ever on-site evidence of water.

In December 2020, the Chang’e 5 mission landed on the moon and dug up the smallest lunar samples ever collected.

Chang’e 5 samples returned to Earth later that month when a rapidly ascending craft blasted off from the mission’s landing site at Oceanus Procellarum (Sea of ​​Storms). About 1.73 kilograms of lunar soil was brought from the massive volcanic complex on the Moon.

In June of this year, scientists officially disclosed the discovery in an official journal, confirming the presence of water at the site.

“For the first time in the world, the results of laboratory analysis of samples returning to the Moon and spectral data from in situ lunar surface surveys have been used jointly to examine the presence, shape and quantity of ‘water’ in lunar samples,” said author Li Chunlai, planetary scientist at the National Astronomical Observatories. of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC), at that time in statement.

At that time, a group of Chinese scholars specified The surface water concentration at Chang’e 5 landing site is as low as 30 ppm. However, another study has now starkly revealed the large water concentrations.

sun, moon and water

Chinese researchers report their findings in an article published in the journal Nature Communications. The water concentration at the sampling site was at least 170 parts per million (ppm), or 170 grams per ton of lunar soil.

According to paper co-author Li Xiongyao of the Institute of Geochemistry in Guiyang, water, which mainly takes the chemical form of hydroxyl (OH), a chemical close to free water (H2O), forms like hydrogen ions in the solar wind, bombarding the moon’s surface. It reacts with oxygen atoms in the soil.

One important way water is generated on the Moon is through a process known as solar wind implantation. Other water sources, according to Xiongyao, included the moon’s interior when it was still an ocean of lava, as well as meteorites or comets that crashed into the moon’s surface.

A team of Chinese experts found that the surface water concentration at Chang’e 5 landing site was as low as 30 parts per million in June. The team led by the National Astronomical Observatories concluded that the interior of the Moon, unlike the Sun, is the primary water source in their research.

NASA's Artemis, which plans to land humans on the Moon by 2025, works on a hydrogen leak during pre-launch testing
File photo: Moon

However, Xiongyao and colleagues discovered that the minerals make excellent water reservoirs. The surface of the metal particles in Chang’e samples showed a water content of more than 6000 parts per million, according to a comprehensive study of the mineral particles of the samples.

They also discovered that the surface of the minerals was severely deficient in the hydrogen isotope deuterium and exceptionally abundant in hydrogen.

Deuterium, an isotope of hydrogen, is extremely rare on the surface of metals, which matches the hydrogen and deuterium composition of the solar wind since the Sun used all the deuterium in nuclear processes during the early stages of its existence.

Similar amounts of water were present in samples returned by NASA’s Chang’e 5 and Apollo lunar missions, according to Xiongyao.

Xiongyao noted that although 170 ppm is much higher than previously thought, it is possible that Chang’e 5’s landing site is still as dry as the desert, making it difficult to harvest and use that water. It is worth noting that the United States has accused China of mining the lunar surface in search of resources to occupy the entire moon one day.

China’s “high moon” space aspirations

To compete with the United States in the new age of space exploration, China wants to conduct three unmanned missions to the Moon within the next 10 years. China’s lunar flights were further encouraged after its new mineral discovery, which was predicted by state media as a historic achievement.

The state-run CCTV channel reported that the China National Space Administration has been allowed to transmit three orbits to the Moon as part of the Chang’e Lunar Program.

After the American Artemis I mission, the first major attempt to return to the Moon in fifty years, was delayed by a few days, the two sides began to trade barbs against each other. According to NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, China has been criticized for space debris and theft of space technology.

Space News previously reported that China is making progress in developing two super-heavy-lift rockets for manned missions and launching infrastructure to the moon. With its new rockets, China will be able to quickly land on the moon before 2030 and deploy significant infrastructure on the moon after that.

A concept model of China’s new generation crew launch vehicle on display in Zhuhai in November 2018.-CASC

Although a manned lunar landing has yet to receive official approval from the Chinese government, the country’s space players and state media are openly discussing their plans to send a crew to the moon even as Artemis prepares to take off.

According to Chen Xiaofei of the Department of General Design at the Chinese Academy of Vehicle Launch Technology (CALT), advances in the rocket – a new generation launch vehicle and super heavy launcher known as the Long March 9 – are moving forward with the program.