H2O is indeed present in the rocks collected by the Chang’e-5 lunar lander, Chinese scientists have said
Evidence that water could be present in the rocks collected by Chang’e 5 lander on the moon has been confirmed by tests on Earth, Chinese scientists have said. They shared their findings in a paper, published this week in the journal Nature Communications.
The lunar lander landed on the moon in December 2020 and collected some 1.7 kilograms (more than 3.5 pounds) of rocks and lunar soil, known as regolith.
The vessel also used its onboard instruments to measure the chemical composition of the collected samples.
This data allowed Chinese researchers to suggest that water molecules could be present at about 120 parts per million (ppm) in some types of moon rocks and at 180 ppm in others.
Now, a team from the Chinese Academy of Sciences has confirmed the presence of water in the samples by directly studying the charge that brought Chang’e-5 back to Earth.
The lunar soil analyzed by the scientists was found to be relatively dry — even by lunar standards — with water levels of 28.5 parts per million.
However, they also found that the mineral apatite was also among the samples with an H2O content of 179 ppm, which was consistent with previous predictions.
Telescope and satellite observations have long led scientists to suspect that water existed on the moon, as hydroxyl or H2O in the rocks.
The hope is that cosmonauts and astronauts, who colonize Earth’s satellite in the future, will be able to extract molecular oxygen and hydrogen from the environment to produce water and pure oxygen for themselves.