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Scientists discover water in glass spheres on the moon | Sciences

Lunar samples taken from the China Chang’e-5 mission’s lunar exploration program on display at the National Museum in Beijing, China.

Samples collected on a Chinese mission revealed that Loa has a renewable water resource, which can be used for satellite exploration. Scientists have discovered a new, renewable source of water on the Moon, in lunar samples collected by a Chinese mission, and suggest its possible use by “future explorers” for the satellite.

The study, published on Monday (28) in the journal Nature Geoscience, says that the water was inside small glass balls that were formed as a result of violent collisions of space rocks with the surface of the moon.

The study indicates that the amount of water stored in the balls is estimated at 270 trillion kilograms. Lunar multicolored and bright glass samples were collected by China in 2020.

This discovery is in line with recent missions in recent decades that have shown that the Moon is not dry, contrary to the popular belief that the satellite would be devoid of water.

How are these domains formed?

Lunar samples taken from the China Chang’e-5 mission’s lunar exploration program on display at the National Museum in Beijing, China.

The study, conducted by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, analyzed 117 spheres collected from the lunar surface in 2020 during China’s Chang’e 5 lunar mission.

With no protection from the atmosphere, the Moon is bombarded with small meteorites, forming balls. The heat generated melts the adjacent surface material, and then cools into particles.

Water, which is composed of hydrogen and oxygen molecules, is stored in these spheres, which act as a kind of sponge for the molecules.

How are water molecules formed?

The solar wind is a stream of charged particles emitted from the sun’s atmosphere by the solar system. The hydrogen needed to produce water molecules comes from the solar wind, according to study co-author Mahesh Anand of the Open University in the UK.

Oxygen makes up almost half of the moon and is trapped inside rocks and minerals.

The impact of meteorites and the constant interaction of the solar wind with the surface of the moon indicate that this process can constantly produce water.

The water content is just a small fraction of the spheres, Hejiu Hui of Nanjing University, who was involved in the study, explained. According to the researchers, because there are billions or trillions of particles present, this could account for large amounts of water, but extracting them would be difficult.

A viable option in the future?

According to Anand, a moderate heat of about 100 degrees Celsius would be sufficient to extract water from these spheres. However, this process will require a large amount of domains, Hui pointed out.

Water could be extracted by heating the spheres, possibly via future robotic missions. However, more studies are needed to determine if this is possible, and if so, whether the water would be safe to drink.

“Water is the most requested raw material to allow sustainable exploitation of planetary surfaces,” notes another author of the study, Sen Ho. “Knowing how water is produced, stored and replenished near the lunar surface will be very useful for future explorers,” he added.

Other planets and solar system bodies, such as Mercury, can also generate this water by the solar wind.

Previous studies have found water in glass spheres formed from lunar volcanism in samples collected by the Apollo astronauts more than half a century ago.

By the end of 2025, NASA intends to send astronauts to the moon again. That mission should focus on the satellite’s south pole, where the craters are believed to be filled with frozen water.

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