“Solar water” is found on the Moon

A new analysis of dust from the Moon proves that the water particles bound in it may originate from the Sun. However, to be more precise, such “solar water” was formed as a result of the interaction of the solar wind with the surface of the Moon, namely hydrogen ions that interacted with mineral oxides on the Moon, which then bound hydrogen with displaced oxygen. As a result, water was formed, contained in the lunar regolith in significant quantities at medium and high latitudes. This discovery will help scientists understand the distribution of water on the Moon and even reveal the origin of water on Earth.

The solar wind could play a significant role in the formation of water on the Moon. Photo: Unsplash

Where does the water come from on the Moon?

The Moon looks like a rather dry ball of dust. But recent studies have found that there is much more water than previously thought. Obviously, it does not swim in lakes and lagoons, but is bound in the lunar regolith. Probably, the water in the form of ice is hidden in permanently shadowed craters and sequestered in balls of volcanic glass. This naturally leads to questions, for example, how much water is there exactly? How is it distributed and Where did it come from? The last question probably has several answers.

Part of the water could have been brought in as a result of a collision with an asteroid, and another part could get to the Moon from Earth. But this source is hardly the first. Of course, there is no water on the Sun to bring it to planets or moons. But our star is a reliable source of high-speed hydrogen ions that can participate in the formation of water. Earlier, this hypothesis was partially confirmed by the Apollo missions: scientists found that the solar wind is responsible for at least some of the ingredients for water on the Moon.

Sun and Water

Now a team of researchers led by geochemists Yuchen Xu and Heng-Ci Tian from the Chinese Academy of Sciences has discovered chemicals in grains seized by the Chang’e-5 mission, further proving the solar source of lunar water. Most of these samples showed very high hydrogen concentrations from 1116 to 2516 ppm and very low deuterium/hydrogen isotope ratios. These ratios are consistent with the number of parts found in the solar wind. This indicates that the solar wind crashed into the Moon, depositing hydrogen on the lunar surface.

To determine whether hydrogen can be stored in monthly minerals, the researchers conducted experiments on heating dust. They found that regolith dust particles can indeed contain hydrogen. Finally, the researchers conducted a simulation on the conservation of hydrogen in the lunar soil at different temperatures. This showed that temperature plays a significant role in implantation, migration and release of hydrogen on the Moon. This means that a significant amount of water produced by the solar wind can persist in the middle and high latitudes, where the temperature is lower.

The model based on these findings suggests that the polar regions of the Moon may be rich in water formed by the solar wind – information that can be very useful when planning future lunar exploration missions.

Earlier we reported on how the last photo taken by astronauts on the Moon was found.

According to ScienceAlert

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