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Scientists discover potential water sources from the samples collected from the moon surface by China’s Chang’e 5 lander.
Water is found contained inside the tiny glass beads on the moon surface. The samples of the glass beads were sent by the Chang’e 5 Lander in 2020.
NASA scientists found in two papers published in 2020 that there are water molecules on the moon’s sunlit surface and that water ice could be lurking in the satellite’s shadowy recesses.
According to a news release from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, water on the lunar surface is being lost to space, suggesting there must be a hydrated layer or reservoir replenishing the moon’s supplies,
According to the latest study, water is formed in the glass beads created by asteroid impacts on the lunar surface, which is derived from the solar wind. The water in the glass beads is distributed over the entire lunar surface.
Chang’e – 5 Mission
Chang’e 5 space mission is China’s first Sample return mission and also the fifth lunar exploration mission as a part of Chinese Lunar Exploration Program.
It was launched on 23rd November, 2020 from Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site on Hainan Island, China and landed on Moon on 1st December, 2020.
Chang’e 5 Lander collected approximately 1.731 kgs of lunar samples and made its way to earth on 16th December 2020. After delivering the samples, it set out to space for a long-term mission to make observations on Sun and Earth and also examine the orbital control.
Water in the glass beads on the lunar surface: NASA Reports
Previous explorations and researches, for decades now, on the lunar surface have provided substantial evidence that the moon contains water on its surface.
However the initial formation of water and its surface distribution remained a mystery. And they had no clue regarding any renewable water reservoirs on the moon until now.
But, the recent Chinese space mission has found out these impact glass beads can be a water reservoir – which means it can be an abundant source of water on the moon’s soil.
The Nature Geoscience journal, on Monday published the study on the abundant water reservoir – impact glass beads.
Solar wind – derived water
China had found out that the moon soil contains hydrogen isotopes which are constantly bombarded by the solar wind, providing unlimited water.
The solar wind – derived water is trapped into the impact glass beads which might be buried into the dirty surface of the moon – which is called as a regolith, with water remaining inside the glass beads.
When heated at the correct temperature, the water is released from the glass beads, making it a water reservoir over a period of time. Also Check: Russia and India consider Northern Sea Route
Water beads’s future scope
In the research, 32 randomly collected glass beads by the Chang’e Lander were used. It is predicted that there might be millions if not trillions of water beads on the lunar surface, resulting in an abundant water source.
There are future plans to mine the glass beads which can be used as a source of water for the space scientists and astronauts.
However, mining these beads buried under the lunar surface will not be an easy task, says the scientists. There is also scope for using it as a rocket fuel.
Apart from them, further research is needed to determine “if the water is safe for human consumption”.