Moon breakthrough as China’s probe finds double evidence of lunar water: ‘Definitive’ | Science | News

China’s Chang’E-5 Moon mission, which landed on the lunar surface in December 2020, has retrieved samples of rock that conclusively show the presence of water. The probe drilled down to collect samples from the Moon’s Oceanus Procellarum, an ancient mare basalt whose name translates to “Ocean of Storms.”

Using onboard spectral analysis, the researchers were able to confirm “the first real-time, on-site definitive confirmation of water signal in the basalt’s rocks and soil”

These findings were once again confirmed through laboratory analysis of samples the lander returned in 2021.

In a new study published in the journal Nature Communications, the Chang’E-5 researchers have determined where the water came from.

Co-corresponding author of the study LI Chunlai from the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC) said: “For the first time in the world, the results of laboratory analysis of lunar return samples and spectral data from in-situ lunar surface surveys were used jointly to examine the presence, form and amount of ‘water’ in lunar samples.”

“The results accurately answer the question of the distribution characteristics and source of water in the Chang’E-5 landing zone and provide a ground truth for the interpretation and estimation of water signals in remote sensing survey data.”

However, the analysis did not suggest the presence of vast reservoirs of water on the Moon’s surface.

Instead, they showed that on average the rocks and soil of the moon’s surface contain about 30 hydroxyl parts per million; hydroxyl, with one oxygen atom and one hydrogen atom, which is the main ingredient of water.

While Mr Li described the hydroxyl parts as the “weak end of lunar hydration features,” the study noted that the compound offers an indication of water like smoke does to fire.

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The researchers also investigated the primary water source of the Moon, which is contained in a crystalline mineral called apatite.

The team noted that solar wind, which is a constant stream of charged particles ejected from The Scum, was responsible for less solar wind than previously thought.

These charged particles were ejected from The Scum and struck the Moon, embedding themselves in the lunar surface.

Referring to the composition of the mare basalt of Oceanus Procellarum, Mr Li said: “This excess hydroxyl is indigenous, demonstrating the presence of lunar-originated internal water in the Chang’E-5 lunar samples, and that water played an important role in the formation and crystallization of the late lunar basaltic magma.

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