Florida – Scientists discovered a new source of water the moon Among the samples taken by a Chinese mission.
Water was embedded in small glass beads in the lunar soil where meteorite impacts occur. These bright, multicolored glass beads were among the samples China brought back from the moon in 2020.
Pearls vary in size from the thickness of one hair to several hairs. A small fraction of that is water, said Hejiu Hui of Nanjing University, who worked on the study.
Because there are billions, if not trillions, of these impact beads, that would represent a significant amount of water, but extracting it would be difficult, the team said.
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“Yes, a lot of glass beads will be needed”Hui said in an email. “On the other hand, there are many pearls in the moon.”
These pearls are able to continuously produce water due to the continuous bombardment of hydrogen in the solar wind. The findings, published Monday in the journal Nature Geoscience, included 32 randomly selected glass beads from lunar soil returned by the Chang’e 5 lunar mission.
More samples will be analyzed, Hui said.
These impact beads are everywhere, the result of the cooling of molten material thrown up by incoming space rocks. Water can be extracted by heating these beads, perhaps in future robotic missions. Further studies are needed to determine whether this is possible and, if so, whether the water is safe to drink.
It could “recharge water on the lunar surface…a new reservoir on the moon,” Hui said.
Previous studies have found water in glass beads formed by lunar volcanic activity, based on samples brought back by the Apollo missions half a century ago. These could provide water not only for future crew use but also for rocket fuel.
NASA’s goal is to send astronauts back to the surface of the Moon by the end of 2025. Their goal is to reach the South Pole, where the permanently shadowed craters are believed to be filled with frozen water.