- Scientists discover nearly 300 billion tons of water on the Moon, offering potential water supply for future lunar missions.
- Glass beads formed by meteorite impacts contain water created from solar winds reacting with lunar rocks.
- The water can be extracted from the glass particles through simple heating methods.
- Although each particle contains only a small amount of water, they contribute to a significant water reserve in lunar soil.
- This finding enhances the feasibility of establishing permanent lunar bases and opens up new avenues for sustainable lunar exploration.
In a groundbreaking discovery, a team of 28 scientists has announced the presence of nearly 300 billion tons of water on the Moon. The revelation opens up exciting possibilities for future lunar missions, as astronauts may now have a potential source of water in space. Previous research had hinted at water on the Moon, but this new study, published in the Nature Geoscience journal, sheds light on how humans could find and harness this valuable resource.
The researchers studied 150 tiny glass beads, each smaller than a millimeter, collected during China’s Chang’e-5 lunar mission in 2020. These beads, formed when small meteorites impacted the Moon’s surface and fused with the material there, contain water created from solar winds. Hydrogen, carried by solar winds, reacts with oxygen from lunar rocks to create water, which is then stored within the glass beads. Remarkably, the beads can be replenished with water continuously as solar winds persistently blow over the Moon.
Extracting the water from the glass particles is a relatively simple process, requiring heating to 212 degrees Fahrenheit and above. While each particle contains less than 0.2% water, they make up a significant portion of the lunar soil collected, estimated to contain up to 297 billion tons of water. This discovery paves the way for sustainable lunar exploration, with the potential to utilize the water for drinking or even as rocket fuel.
The finding coincides with the European Space Agency’s consideration of establishing permanent lunar bases, such as a “Moon village,” while NASA plans to send astronauts back to the Moon in 2025, half a century after the last lunar landing. The newfound water resource provides hope for a promising and sustainable future of human exploration beyond Earth.
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