Scientists said they found evidence of water in the form of hydroxyl in a crystalline mineral called apatite.
A model of the Long March-5 Y5 rocket from China’s lunar exploration program Chang’e-5 mission is on display at an exhibit inside the National Museum in Beijing. (Photo: Reuters)
Chinese scientists have found signs of water in samples obtained by China from lava fields on the Moon, bringing them closer to understanding the origins there – an important question for future lunar exploration.
In a paper published this week in Nature Communications, scientists said they had analyzed the remains of solidified lava retrieved by an uncrewed Chinese mission from a field known as the “Ocean of Storms” and found a water in the form of hydroxyl. evidence was found. Crystalline mineral called apatite.
An oxygenated hydroxyl from one hydrogen atom and one oxygen atom versus two hydrogens in a water molecule was also found in samples obtained decades earlier by NASA.
It was widely believed that most of the water on the Moon was the result of chemical processes resulting from the bombardment of charged particles from the Sun on the lunar surface.
Scientists said that the source of hydroxyl in minerals like apatite is indigenous.
“The hydroxyl content is probably negligible in exotic materials produced by impact processes,” the scientists said.
He said the Chinese samples showed little or none of the hydroxyl in them was from “external sources.”
China’s Chang’e-5 mission, named after the mythical Chinese goddess of the Moon, retrieved soil and rock from an unseen part of the Oceanus Procellarum plain, returned 1,731 grams of samples in December 2020. brought.
China is expected to launch more unmanned lunar missions in the coming years with one of the objectives of studying water.
The presence of water on the Moon may shed more light on the evolution of the Solar System. It could also point the way to critical in-situ water resources for any long-term human habitation.
“The source and distribution of water on the Moon is still an open question, with no consensus,” the scientists said.