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China’s Chang’e-5 probe finds in situ evidence of water on the Moon


China’s lunar probe found water on the moon’s surface, the first time scientists have found in situ evidence of the substance on Earth’s satellite. In a study published in , Chinese researchers claim that the probe detected signs of water molecules or hydroxyl, a close chemical relative of H2O. Chang’e-5 used a spectrometer to analyze regolith formation in the vicinity of its landing site. It found that the water concentration in most soils is less than 120 parts per million, which makes Luna’s surface drier than Earth’s.

Honglei Lin et al.

Chinese scientists believe that most of the particles came to the moon through a process called solar wind implantation. Charged particles from the sun pushed hydrogen atoms to the moon’s surface where they later bonded with oxygen to form water and hydroxyl. The study builds on findings from NASA when it found evidence of water on the moon’s sunlit surfaces using an infrared telescope. For decades, scientists believed that the Moon was completely dry due to its almost non-existent atmosphere. With no atmosphere, it was thought that there was nothing there to protect the water molecules from the sun’s harsh rays.

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