China’s Chang’e 5 lunar lander has found the first on-site evidence of water on the Moon’s surface, providing new evidence for the satellite’s dryness.
The study, published Saturday in the peer-reviewed journal Science Advances, showed that the lunar soil at the landing site contained less than 120 parts-per-million (ppm) of water, or 120 grams of water per ton, and in a lighter, vesicular rock. is 180ppm. , which are much drier than Earth.
The presence of water was confirmed by remote observations, but the lander has now found signs of water in the rocks and soil.
An instrument aboard the lunar lander measured the spectral reflectivity of the regolith and rock and detected water on the spot for the first time.
The amount of water can be estimated because water molecules or hydroxyls are absorbed at a frequency of about three micrometres, state news agency Xinhua reported, quoting researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).
Researchers said it was the solar wind that contributed to most of the humidity of the lunar soil because it brought in the hydrogen that forms water.
According to the researchers, the additional 60ppm of water in the rock may have originated from the lunar interior.
Therefore, the rock is projected to hail from an older, more humid basaltic unit before being ejected to the landing site to be picked up by the lunar lander.
The study showed that the Moon had dried up within a certain period of time, possibly due to the deterioration of its mantle reservoir.
The Chang’e-5 spacecraft landed on one of the youngest mare Basel, located at mid-high latitudes, on the Moon. It measured the water on the spot and took samples weighing 1,731 grams.
“The returned samples are a mixture of grains both on the surface and below. But an in-situ probe can measure the outermost layer of the lunar surface,” Lin Honglei, a researcher at the Institute of Geology and Geophysics under CAS, told Xinhua. ,
Lin also noted that simulating authentic lunar surface conditions on Earth is challenging, thus making in-situ measurements so essential.
According to the study, the results are consistent with the initial analysis of the returned Chang’e-5 samples.
The findings provide further clues to China’s Chang’e-6 and Chang’e-7 missions. The investigation of lunar water reserves makes headlines because the construction of manned lunar stations is in the pipeline over the next decades, the report said.
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