January 27, 2023

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The sun plays a surprising role in creating the water on the moon

Silver Globe may not be known for its abundance of H2O, but it can undoubtedly be found there. Most of the water is found within the polar regions, especially where there is constant shade. However, the Chang’e 5 mission was able to collect samples from a higher latitude than before.

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The collected material contains water, which might not have formed at all without the solar wind. Interestingly, our natural satellite is very unstable in terms of water content. Its concentration in soil can vary by up to 200 ppm at different times of the day. So it is easy to get the impression that the Sun plays an important role in the Moon’s hydrological cycle.

Virtually devoid of an atmosphere, the Silver Globe is exposed to the solar wind. The hydrogen molecules that make it up can interact directly with the upper layer of regolith on the surface of the moon, leaving behind a large amount of hydrogen atoms with very little deuterium, which has the advantage of having an extra neutron in the nucleus.

Most of the water on the moon around the poles would be there

Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who analyzed samples collected by the Chang’e 5 mission, discovered surprisingly high concentrations of hydrogen due to the low amounts of deuterium. This affected the top layer of the regolith, and the total water concentration in the sample was about 46 ppm. Location played an important role here, as there is not as much variation at higher latitudes as missions such as Apollo or Luna at lower latitudes.

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After entering the collected data into the model, the team members concluded that there would be more to come about hydrogen electrodes. Therefore, it can be assumed that these regions will be the best place to search for large amounts of water on the moon. In the context of the long-term planned missions to the Silver Globe, which consist of building permanent bases there, these are important results. Colonists will have to use the resources available in the location as much as possible to become independent of supplies from Earth.