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Chinese scientific mission discovers that the Moon contains a new source of water


The water is in small, shiny, multicolored glass beads on the lunar surface, where meteorite impacts occur. The samples were brought back to Earth in 2020.

By Associated Press

Scientists have discovered a new source of water on the Moon in samples taken by a Chinese mission.

The water was embedded in tiny glass beads on the lunar surface, where meteorite impacts occur.

The shiny, multicolored glass beads were in samples China brought back from the moon in 2020.

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Pearls vary in size from the thickness of a hair to several hairs.

The water content is only a minuscule fraction of that, said Hejiu Hui of Nanjing University, who participated in the study.

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Since there are billions, if not trillions, of these impact beads, it could represent significant amounts of water, but extracting it would be difficult, according to the team.

“A lot of glass beads will be required,” Hui said in an email.

"On the other hand, there are many pearls on the Moon."

These pearls could continuously produce water thanks to the constant bombardment of hydrogen in the solar wind.

These findings, published Monday in the journal Nature Geoscience, are based on 32 randomly selected glass beads from lunar soil brought back by the Chang'e 5 lunar mission.

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More samples will be studied, Hui said.

These pearls are everywhere, the result of cooling molten material thrown up by meteorites.

Water can be extracted by heating these beads, possibly in future robotic missions.

More studies are needed to determine if this is feasible and, if so, if the water is safe to drink.

This shows that "water can be collected on the lunar surface (...), a new water reservoir on the Moon," Hui said.

A screenshot shows China's Chang'e-5 spacecraft flying over the Moon, during an event on lunar exploration at the National Astronomical Observatory, under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in January 2021.Reuters

Previous studies found water in glass beads formed by lunar volcanic activity, based on samples returned by the Apollo missions more than half a century ago.

These can also provide water not only for use by future crews, but for rocket fuel.

NASA's goal is to send astronauts back to the lunar surface by the end of 2025. Their destination will be to reach the South Pole, where craters that do not receive sunlight are believed to be filled with frozen water.

Source: telemundo

All news articles on 2023-03-28

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