Chinese scientists discover water on the moon again - Inc News
, author: Ermakova M.

Chinese scientists discover water on the moon again

Water storage in impact glass could buffer the Moon's water cycle, and this is something that has been sought for a long time.

A group of Chinese scientists have discovered water in impact-resistant glass beads located in a lunar crater. This is not the first time water has been discovered on the moon. However, this is a unique case, as it is a new enclave, which indicates the presence of possible water bodies that could weaken the water cycle on the Earth's natural satellite.

The problem is that from finding water on the Moon to being able to turn these reserves into a source is a long way. We must not forget that liquid water cannot remain on the surface, and the vapor will be decomposed by sunlight. It is usually found as ice in shaded areas or as a thin layer of gas on the surface. However, the bodies of water discovered so far do not correspond to the water cycle, which allows it to be maintained on the satellite in the same way as on Earth. That is, there must be a balance between the release, retention and replenishment of water on the Moon. One detail has gone missing in this cycle, and now the scientists behind the Chang'e-5 mission believe they've found it.

Impact glasses: a new source of water on the moon

If we just stuck to what has been found so far, the water on the Moon would gradually be lost. That's why scientists have for years put forward the possibility of a hydrated layer deep in the soil of our satellite that serves as a buffer for the water cycle.

To test this, many mineral grains and rocks collected during various missions were analyzed. But it was not possible to find this much-desired deposit. At least it hasn't been possible so far.

And the fact is that in a study published in Nature Geoscience, a group of scientists from several Chinese research centers described what this water cycle buffer on the Moon could be.

We are talking about shock glasses found in the crater in which Chang'e-5 landed. These glasses are formed as a result of the cooling of rock that explodes after a meteorite hits the surface. It is subjected to strong pressure, heats up, and then cools down sharply, forming glass beads. The presence of this glass is not new. However, this time she attracted the attention of scientists; because when analyzing their chemical composition, they found up to 2000 µg/g of water.

The role of solar winds

When looking for a source of water on a planet or moon, they usually analyze the ratio of hydrogen isotopes. Let's see what that means.

The water molecule, H₂O, is made up of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. However, it is not always about hydrogen, which we find most often on Earth. There may also be so-called isotopes. These are variants from the same atom, more or less light. In this case, in water we can find atoms of deuterium, which is a heavier isotope of hydrogen than usual.

On Earth, for example, there was a time when it was believed that all water was formed as a result of asteroid impacts. However, the deuterium ratio does not add up. There are several lighter molecules with less deuterium that do not agree with the asteroid theory. This was decided many years ago when they became convinced that it was the influence of solar winds, which could turn the rocks present in the very surface layer of the object into water.

And that's what seems to have happened to this water buffer on the moon. The glass beads found in the crater contained a ratio of deuterium that would match the ratio of water formed by the solar winds.

This is a very interesting finding that brings us one step closer to understanding the behavior of water on the Moon. There is still enough time before the opening of the first lunar bases, so you can try to find out more. Scientists will no doubt continue to pull the thread they have just found.