Planetary scientists in China have found evidence of a new water reservoir on the moon by studying samples recovered by China’s Chang’e-5 lunar probe, which shows that the water resources at the site can be used for future lunar and deep space exploration missions.

The team of researchers led by scientists from the Institute of Geology and Geophysics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences determined that the glass beads (beads) in the soil collected by the Chinese lunar probe “Chang’e-5”, which were formed from the cooling of molten materials resulting from the collision, contain a higher amount of water derived solar wind than previously thought, reports Al-Rai daily.

The Chinese lunar probe Chang’e-5, which returned to Earth on December 17, 2020, has recovered a total of 1,731 grams of lunar samples, which are mainly composed of rocks and soil from the lunar surface.

Previous lunar missions have detected water ice on the Moon. Surface water rises and falls within one lunar day and is lost to space, indicating that there must be a layer or water reservoir deep in the lunar soil to continue to retain, release and replenish lunar surface water, according to a study.

However, the researchers said that deposits of water in mineral particles in lunar soil, in impact clumps, in volcanic rocks, and in glass beads from volcanic eruptions cannot explain the same water cycle. Therefore, some lunar exploration researchers have concluded that there is an as yet unidentified water reservoir in the lunar soil that has the potential to maintain this water cycle. According to the researchers, the interaction of the solar wind with surface materials can produce water and maintain the water cycle, but the host entity for such a reservoir has not been found yet.

The study, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, showed that the glass beads, resulting from the collision, are likely to be a new reservoir of water on the moon. The team of Chinese researchers led by Hu Sen analyzed the water content inside the glass beads resulting from the impact activities, which were extracted from soil samples collected by the Chinese lunar probe Chang’e-5. Hu’s team analyzed the glass beads in terms of their appearance, component composition, water abundance, and hydrogen isotope composition, and found that the water in those grains comes from the solar wind, with a water abundance of about 2,000 parts per million.

The researchers estimated that the volume of water contributed by the glass grains resulting from the collision activities in the lunar soil could reach 270 trillion kilograms, but it is much less than in the Earth’s oceans. After the glass grains are formed due to the collision activities, the water caused by the solar wind enters the grains by diffusion, according to the study.

This study was the result of cooperation between Nanjing University, the Open University, the Museum of Natural History, the University of Manchester and the China University of Science and Technology.

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