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This is what is known about the recent discovery of water on the moon

This is what is known about the recent discovery of water on the moon

Chinese scientists find water in pearls on the surface of the moon / File.

Found a group of scientists water hidden inside a small glass beads extracted from the surface moon During the Chinese expedition Chang’e 5. In a condition Published at the end of March in the scientific journal Natural Earth SciencesExperts describe how these glass beads, which came from the Moon in late 2020, are the width of a hair, between 50 micrometers and 1 millimeter.

Scientists explain that the water content is only a small part of the volume of the pearls, and they also say that there could be up to 330,000 million tons of water Hidden within these are glass beads over the entire surface of the moon.

Originally it was believed that the Moon had no water at all, as it was not detected in soil samples brought back by the Apollo missions. Now, however, for decades it has been known to be so.

Water ice at the poles was discovered in the 1990s using the neutron spectrometer aboard the lunar mission Prospector. Then water ice was found inside multiple craters on the moon’s surface.

In 2018, NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper, designed by Chandrayaan-1 of the Indian Space Research Organization, provided researchers with the first high-resolution map of the minerals that make up the moon’s surface. Shown collected water at the poles.

“Today, there is little doubt that most of the lunar surface harbors water in one form or another,” the authors wrote in the paper. Natural Earth Sciences.

There was no water on the moon

However, these glass beads contain water that was not originally present on the lunar surface. Instead, the pearls and the water within them formed as a result of meteorite impacts at tremendous speeds.

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During the collision, the pearls formed when silicate minerals were heated to extreme temperatures by a meteor impact, melting and forming molten balls of glass-like material.

Inside these molten glass grains of lunar rock, oxygen from the rock interacts with hydrogen ions in the plasma of the solar wind that bathes the moon at all times. This phenomenon forms H2O, or water, which is absorbed by the granules. Then these pearls are scattered across the surface of the moon and remain there for millions of years, buried under the dust.

The article’s authors write: “A recent geochronological study of impacting glass beads at CE5 [Chang’e 5] showed that they formed more or less continuously over the past two billion years, with notable peaks in formation ages before. [alrededor de] 575, 380, 68 and 35 million years.

Previously, water on the Moon was seen coming and going in diurnal cycles, and disappearing into space. So the researchers concluded that there must be a moist layer in the lunar soil to somehow compensate for this lost water, but it has not been found so far.

They figure it out by adding all these

They calculated that collecting all those “glass pearls” could hold up to 330,000 tons of water / Getty Images.

How are pearls formed?

The study also found that water in the solar wind can take between one and 15 years to disperse to form glass beads at temperatures of 360 K (86.85 degrees Celsius), and that the beads are also capable of releasing water into the environment. . The authors say this may indicate that the granules are important in maintaining the lunar surface water cycle.

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Scientists hope that someday this water will become a source for lunar missions, because they believe that it may be very easy to extract water from many beads.

“If we want to extract water from impact glass beads for future lunar exploration, we collect it first, then boil it in an oven, and cool the released water vapor. Finally, you get some liquid water in a bottle,” said Sen Hu, a planetary geologist at the Institute of Geology and Geophysics. of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and a co-author on the paper, for Live Science.

Another benefit is that effect of glass beads [comunes] on the lunar soil, globally and uniformly, from the equator to the poles and from east to west.

This could be invaluable to upcoming manned missions to the moon, as well as planned lunar bases scheduled to be built in the near future. The China National Space Administration plans to complete a base on the Moon by 2029, and has NASA on its heels.

On the moon and on other planets

However, Ian Crawford, professor of planetary sciences and astrobiology at Birkbeck, University of London, told the newspaper guardian The amount of water on the moon is not very proportional to Earth’s standards. Each cubic meter of lunar soil contains a maximum of 130 milliliters of water.

The published study also suggests that such glassy grains with water trapped in them may be common on other airless planets, where the solar wind can interact with rocks thrown up during meteorite impacts.

Our direct measurements of the lunar surface water reservoir show that impacting glass beads can store large amounts of water derived from the solar wind on the Moon. They suggest that the glass effect may be a reservoir of water in other airless bodies.

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They continued: “The presence of water stored in archaeological glass beads is consistent with remote sensing of water in the low-latitude regions of the Moon, Vesta and Mercury. Our findings indicate that the effect of glass on the surface of airless bodies in the solar system is capable of storing water derived from The solar wind and its release into space.

Therefore, these glass beads could provide a source of water for future missions to these other astronomical objects. no.

(Published in association with Newsweek. Published in association with Newsweek).

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