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China discovers water in the ‘Ocean of Storms’ on the moon.

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China discovers water in the 'Ocean of Storms' on the moon.

Chinese scientists have discovered evidence of water in samples taken from a lava plain on the moon, bringing them closer to understanding the origin of water on the moon – an important subject for future lunar exploration.The researchers discovered water in the form of hydroxyl contained in a crystalline mineral called apatite.

The scientists said they analysed traces of hardened lava obtained by an uncrewed Chinese mission in an article published this week in Nature Communications.

For the first time in the world, the results of laboratory analysis of lunar return samples and spectral data from in-situ lunar surface surveys were used jointly to examine the presence, form and amount of ‘water’ in lunar samples,” LI Chunlai from the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC) said according to a report by news agency IANS.

Hydroxyl, which consists of a single hydrogen atom and an oxygen atom rather than the two hydrogen to one oxygen in a water molecule, was also discovered in NASA samples decades ago.

The majority of the water on the moon was thought to be the result of chemical processes initiated by charged particles from the sun bombarding the lunar surface.The experts believe that the source of hydroxyl in rocks like apatite is most likely indigenous.

In the following years, China is likely to undertake more unmanned lunar missions, with one of the goals being the research of water.

The presence of water on the moon could provide more information about the solar system’s evolution. It could also lead to in-situ water supplies, which are essential for long-term human habitation.

The samples were taken during the warmest part of the Moon’s day, when the surface was dry, at temperatures nearing 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Low solar winds, which can contribute to hydration at high enough power, coincide with the period. The researchers discovered that hydroxyl comes from two separate places.

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