(ORDO NEWS) — China’s first Chang’e-5 is the fifth lunar exploration mission of China’s lunar exploration program, launched on November 23, 2020. He landed on the moon on December 1, 2020 in the northern ocean Oceanus Procellarum near the huge volcanic complex Mons Rümker.
Oceanus Procellarum, which means “Ocean of Storms” in Latin, is a vast lunar haze – a dark basaltic plain that was formed as a result of volcanic activity caused by ancient asteroid collisions on the far side of the moon.
Maria (plural of mare), which is Latin for “seas”, was so named because early astronomers mistook them for real seas. Likewise, Oceanus Procellarum was named the ocean because of its enormous size, as it extends over 1,600 miles across.
At the Oceanus Procellarum landing site, Chang’e 5 collected more than 60 ounces of lunar samples from a core about 3 feet deep. The Chang’e-5 lander lifted off the Moon on December 3, and the orbiter/returner returned the samples to Earth on December 16, 2020. Since then, scientists have been studying the samples.
These samples from the lunar Oceanus Procellarum, an ancient haze basalt whose name translates to “Ocean of Storms,” can now calm at least one scientific storm: the lunar water source.
In 2020, China’s Chang’e-5 lunar probe confirmed for the first time the presence of a water signal in basalt rocks and soil using on-board spectral analysis in real time.
The results of the study were confirmed by laboratory analysis of samples returned by the device in 2021. Now the Chang’e-5 team has determined where the water came from.
The researchers published their findings today (June 14, 2022) in the journal Nature Communications.
“For the first time in the world, laboratory analysis of lunar return samples and spectral data from in situ lunar surface studies were used together to study the presence, shape, and amount of ‘water’ in lunar samples,” said study co-author Li Chunlai of the National Astronomical observatory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC).
The results provide an accurate answer to the question of the distribution characteristics and source of water in the Chang’e-5 landing zone and provide the truth for interpreting and evaluating water signals in remote sensing data.”
Chang’e-5 did not observe lunar rivers or springs; rather, he determined an average of 30 hydroxyls per million in rocks and soil on the lunar surface.
These molecules, composed of one oxygen atom and one hydrogen atom, are the main component of water, as well as the most a common result of the chemical reaction of water molecules with other substances.
Despite the fact that hydroxyl is what LI called the “weak side of the features of lunar hydration”, it is to water what smoke is to fire: proof.
The samples were collected during the hottest part of the lunar day, at temperatures close to 200°F (93°C), when the surface would be at its driest. This time also coincides with weak solar winds, which can promote hydration if the power is high enough.
Even in such dehydrated conditions, hydration signals still appeared – then the researchers wondered where they came from?
First detected by an onboard lunar mineralogical spectrometer in 11 rock and soil samples and confirmed by five additional laboratory analyzes of eight samples, the hydroxyl was found to come from two different sources.
A small part appeared in the glassy material formed as a result of the impact of solar winds on the lunar surface, as in the Apollo 11 sample collected in 1971 and examined in the early 2000s.
But the Chang’e-5 sample contained only about a third of the amount of hydroxyl-containing glass formed by the solar wind compared to the Apollo sample.
This suggests that the solar wind still contributes, albeit weakly, to the hydroxyl content observed at the landing site of Chang’e-5. Most of the hydroxyl in the Chang’e-5 samples was in apatite, a crystalline, phosphate-rich mineral found naturally on the Moon and on Earth.
“This excess of hydroxyl is indigenous, suggesting the presence of internal water of lunar origin in the Chang’e-5 lunar samples, and that water played an important role in the formation and crystallization of late lunar basalt magma,” Lee said, referring to the composition of the landing site.
“Chang’e-5” in haze basalt Oceanus Procellarum. By exploring lunar water and its source, we will learn more about the formation and evolution of not only the Moon itself, but also the solar system. “In addition, lunar water is expected to provide support for future lunar resources in the human habitat.”
The researchers are planning follow-on lunar exploration with Chang’e-5’s successors, Chang’e-6 and Chang’e-7. They will continue to study lunar water through remote sensing, in situ detection, and laboratory analysis to better understand the source, distribution, and temporal changes of lunar water, including polar ice, LEE said.
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