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Scientists Find Giant Water Clusters on the Moon and How They Were Formed

A group of scientists from China have discovered tiny, glass-like droplets in the lunar soil brought back to Earth by the Chang’e-5 lunar mission. Upon analysis, the researchers found that these droplets contained large amounts of water, estimated to be about 270 billion metric tons. The results of their study have been published in the journal Nature.

The droplets are small cosmic objects, measuring less than a millimeter in size. They form when meteorites impact the Moon, instantly melting silicon minerals and spraying droplets in all directions. The droplets then solidify into spherical shapes and remain on the surface of the Moon.

To determine their composition and the amount of water they contain, the scientists used scanning electron microscopy, a technique that provides high-resolution images of the surface of objects.

After analyzing 117 individual spheres, the researchers concluded that all the objects had a uniform composition. They contained water with a low deuterium content, up to 2000 μg/g, which was formed by solar wind.

The glass-like objects found on the surface of the Moon, or other airless space environments, can accumulate water obtained from solar wind and then eject it into space.

Scientists have long been studying the presence of water on the Moon. In the 1990s, NASA’s Clementine spacecraft detected evidence of frozen water in deep craters near the lunar poles. In 2009, the Indian spacecraft Chandrayaan-1 also discovered something resembling a thin layer of water on the lunar surface.

Elon Musk previously announced the launch of the Starship spacecraft, which will be ready for flight in April. The spacecraft is intended for transporting people to Mars and the Moon and can accommodate up to 100 people. In 2021, a prototype of the spacecraft made a successful landing after testing in Texas, following a previous failed attempt.

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