Key takeaways

  • Glass beads on the Moon may store about 300 billion tons of water, potentially aiding future lunar missions.
  • Heating the glass beads to 212°F releases the stored water, making extraction straightforward.
  • Solar winds deposit hydrogen on the Moon, which combines with oxygen in lunar rocks to form water within these beads.
  • The glass beads, formed from meteorite impacts, make up 3-5% of the lunar soil, indicating significant water reserves.
  • This discovery boosts the prospects for sustainable lunar exploration, possibly providing water and even rocket fuel.

Glass beads on the moon’s surface may store approximately 300 billion tons of water, allowing humans on future lunar expeditions to get water in space, according to a team of 28 experts.

Prior study in recent decades has revealed that there is water on the moon. A new study published in the journal Nature Geoscience sheds light on how humans might be able to identify and retrieve such water.

A team of experts from numerous Chinese universities, including the Chinese Academy of Sciences, investigated 150 glass beads smaller than a millimeter that had been transported back to Earth. Two researchers from UK institutions were also credited with the research.

The grains were obtained on China’s Chang’e-5 lunar mission.

The extraction of water from these glass particles was rather straightforward. According to Mahesh Anand, one of the team’s researchers, heating them to 212 degrees Fahrenheit or more was all that was required.

“This will open up new opportunities that many of us have been considering. According to The Guardian, Anand, a professor of planetary science and exploration at the Open University, stated that if you can extract and concentrate water in considerable amounts, it is up to you how you use it.

According to the scientists, the water was formed by solar winds blowing hydrogen, one of the two components in water, onto the lunar surface. There, hydrogen mixes with oxygen from lunar rocks to make water, which is kept inside the beads.

According to the study, this procedure allows the beads to be replenished with water as the solar winds continue to blow over the moon.

According to the study, the glass beads originate when tiny meteorites impact the moon’s surface and melt with the surrounding material.

It’s vital to remember that the particles investigated by the scientists were all composed of less than 0.2% water. Sen Hu, one of the study’s laboratory researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told Insider in an email.

Still, with these beads accounting for 3 to 5% of the lunar soil gathered, experts believe there might be up to 297 billion tons of water in these particles.

Hu said the water collected from the glass beads showed promise for use in future lunar expeditions.

According to Hejiu Hui, a Nanjing University researcher who was involved in the study, told CNN that these results represent a step toward discovering resources that might one day be utilized for drinking water or even rocket fuel.

“This is one of the most exciting discoveries we’ve ever made,” Anand told The Guardian. “With this finding, the potential for exploring the moon in a sustainable manner is higher than it’s ever been.”

This finding comes as the European Space Agency analyzes whether it is feasible to create permanent bases on the moon. One such concept is a “Moon village” that would be crewed and available to member governments, much like the International Space Station.

NASA also intends to send people back to the Moon in 2025, 50 years after the last time humans walked on the lunar surface.

China is likewise trying to place its own man on the moon, hoping to finish the trip by 2030.

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