CHANG’E 5, WATER ON THE MOON & THE FUTURE OF LUNAR EXPLORATION
With the presence of water confirmed on the moon, the idea of a moon base might not be so far off.
Many people had become fascinated by the prospect of living and working on the moon. The detection of water on the moon for more than a decade has also resulted in a new prediction that humans will be able to live on the moon by 2040.
And indeed, we are getting there — Chang'e 5, a Chinese unmanned lunar mission, successfully confirmed the presence of water on the moon when it tested the moon's basalt rocks using its robotic aircraft's Lunar Mineralogical Spectrometer (LMS), which also affirmed NASA's discovery of moon water in 2007.
Sources of water
Chang'e 5 has conducted further observations since then, including investigating the properties of lunar water. The water on the lunar continent is assumed to be caused by the solar wind, which pushes hydrogen atoms toward the lunar surface.
Water and a hydroxyl group are formed when the atom interacts with oxygen. Previously, the Chang'e 5 spacecraft examined the chemical composition of rock and soil on the moon and discovered water concentrations of fewer than 120 ppm, equivalent to 120 grams of water per tonne. In comparison, the water concentration in the granite is roughly 180 ppm. The variation in concentration has led to the conjecture that other water sources may be beneath the moon's surface.
The presence of water on the moon is crucial for future space missions. The existence of this water aids astronauts in loading their gear into space. They have the option of bringing along additional necessary supplies. Earth satellites will almost certainly serve as bases for long-distance journeys to distant solar systems.
Concerning the Chang'e 5 mission
The Chang'e 5 lunar mission is China's first sample-return mission, and it will be the first probe to return lunar material since the Soviet Union's Luna 24 mission in 1976. Chang'e 5 is part of the Chang'e lunar exploration program run by the Chinese National Space Administration. The series of missions, named after a Chinese goddess of the moon, aims to steadily expand their technological capabilities, setting the framework for future human landings.
Chang'e 5 was up and running within hours of landing, using its scoop arm to collect samples from the moon's surface. The lander successfully retrieved 4.4 pounds (2 kilograms) of lunar material, some of which was dug up to 6.5 feet (2 meters) below with a drill.
Because the spacecraft is powered by the sun, it had to finish all of its tasks in two Earth weeks before the sunset on Mons Rümker, as one day on the moon lasts around 29 Earth days, places on the lunar surface experience two weeks of uninterrupted sunlight followed by two weeks of darkness.
Chang'e 5 placed its samples in the ascent vehicle on December 3, just two days after landing on the moon. Then, two days later, it took off from the moon's surface and flew back to the moon. On December 5, the module docked with an orbiter, completing the first robotic docking around the moon in history. The lunar samples were transferred to the orbiter's return capsule, which remained in orbit for nearly a week before returning to Earth.
Chang'e 5 returned to the Earth on 16 December 2020. The mission's success will aid in the development of future plans to take astronauts to the moon.
"The rendezvous and docking, along with the preceding operations of landing and take-off... has created a technical foundation for our future projects of deep space exploration and [crewed] lunar expedition," said Liu Ran, director of the CNSA's Lunar Exploration and Space Program Center, to Chinese media.
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