Chinese lunar lander finds evidence of native water on the moon

(ORDO NEWS) — Samples from the lunar Oceanus Procellarum, an ancient haze basalt whose name translates to “ocean of storms,” ​​may help determine the source of the moon‘s water.

The Chinese lunar probe Chang’e-5 in 2020 for the first time in real time in situ confirmed the presence of a water signal in the rocks and soil of basalt using onboard spectral analysis.

This conclusion was 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.

“For the first time in the world, laboratory analysis of lunar samples and spectral data obtained from in situ studies of the lunar surface were used together to study the presence, shape and amount of ‘water’,” said study co-author Li Chunlai of the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Sciences (NAOC). The results obtained accurately answer the question about the distribution characteristics and source of water in the Chang’e-5 landing zone, and also provide 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 and also the most common result of the chemical reaction of water molecules with other substances.

Although hydroxyl is what Lee called “the weak end 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, 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 – so where did they come from, the researchers wondered?

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 came from apatite, a crystalline, phosphate-rich mineral found naturally on both the Moon and Earth.

“This excess of hydroxyl is indigenous, suggesting the presence of internal lunar water in the Chang’e-5 lunar samples, and that water played an important role in the formation and crystallization of late lunar basaltic magma,” Li said, referring to the composition of the landing site. “Chang’e-5” in haze basalt Oceanus Procellarum.


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