24/7 Space News
China's space missions break new ground
illustration only
China's space missions break new ground
by Staff Writers
Beijing (XNA) Apr 26, 2023

Chinese scientists have made major advances in the research of Earth's nearest celestial neighbor, the moon, thanks to samples and data gathered by China's lunar probes.

In the latest development, water locked in glass beads has been found in lunar samples returned by the Chang'e 5 mission.

A study published in Nature Geoscience journal late last month revealed that the soil samples collected by Chang'e 5 had impact glass beads that contained water in the form of hydroxyl, a molecule consisting of one atom of oxygen and one of hydrogen.

Hydroxyl is one of the most common ions in water.

The beads are created when meteoroids hit the moon's surface, throwing up hot molten droplets that solidify. They act like a sponge, soaking up hydrogen atoms carried by solar winds to form hydroxyl, thus playing a pivotal role in the water cycle on the lunar surface, the study said.

The paper was published by a team led by scientists from the Institute of Geology and Geophysics from the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Their findings indicate that impact glass on the lunar surface is capable of storing solar wind-derived water and releasing it into space.

The water is relatively easy to extract and could represent a potential resource for future lunar exploration, according to Hu Sen, a researcher from the institute and one of the key scientists behind the study.

While each bead only holds a tiny amount of water, vast amounts of glass beads in the lunar soil could hold up to 270 billion metric tons of water, researchers estimate.

New lunar mineral found
The samples also led to the discovery of a sixth new lunar mineral.

Named Changesite-(Y), it was found last year by scientists at the Beijing Research Institute of Uranium Geology and has been certified by the International Mineralogical Association and its Commission on New Minerals, Nomenclature and Classification.

Changesite-(Y), which is a type of lunar merrillite, a calcium phosphate mineral, is the first lunar mineral discovered by Chinese scientists, making China the third country in the world after the United States and Russia to have achieved such a feat.

Li Ziying, chief scientist of lunar sample research at the Beijing Research Institute of Uranium Geology, said the area where the Chang'e 5 probe landed and collected the samples is geologically younger than the landing sites chosen for previous US and Soviet missions, and so the characteristics of the soil there could be different from previously collected samples.

In addition, scientists at the institute measured the content and traits of helium-3 in the samples. Li said that the results may help facilitate prospecting and assessments of the resource, which is an ideal fuel for future nuclear fusion power plants.

One of the most notable space missions in 2020, the 23-day Chang'e 5 robotic mission was the first to return samples to China and one of the country's most sophisticated and challenging space endeavors. On Dec 17, 2020, it returned to Earth with 1,731 grams of rocks and soil, the first lunar samples collected since the Apollo era.

Before Chang'e 5, China deployed two lunar landing craft and two rovers. Yutu 2, which was part of the Chang'e 4 mission, is now the longest-working lunar rover of all time and continues to transmit data and images.

Martian exploration
Elsewhere in the solar system, Mars rover Zhurong has traveled more than 1,900 meters and obtained a great deal of data and images en route to its destination, an ancient coastal area on Utopia Planitia, the vast Martian plain where it landed. The 1.85-meter-tall, 240-kilogram robot, named after the ancient Chinese god of fire, touched down on the Red Planet on May 15, 2021, and began to travel across its surface a week later.

Zhurong is the core component of the Tianwen 1 mission, China's first independent interplanetary exploration mission.

Zhurong and the Tianwen 1 orbiter, which relays signals for the rover, have transmitted around 1,800 gigabytes of raw scientific data to Earth.

Pang Zhihao, an expert on space exploration technology and a renowned writer on spaceflight, said that Tianwen 1 marks a milestone for China's space industry and is a symbol of its rising status in the field of deep-space exploration.

"Scientifically speaking, the mission has been retrieving valuable information about Mars and the solar system and has given Chinese researchers their first opportunity to closely observe and study the planet. And in terms of engineering, it shows China's ability to organize an exceptionally sophisticated, challenging expedition," he said.

Tianwen 1 has signaled a good start to the country's interplanetary program and has laid a solid foundation for the next steps, which will involve more demanding endeavors such as bringing Martian soil samples back to Earth and landing a probe on an asteroid, Pang said.

Source: Xinhua News Agency

Related Links
China National Space Agency
The Chinese Space Program - News, Policy and Technology
China News from SinoDaily.com

Subscribe Free To Our Daily Newsletters

The following news reports may link to other Space Media Network websites.
Space exploration for betterment of humankind
Beijing (XNA) Apr 26, 2023
Monday marked China's eighth Space Day, a day to celebrate the country's achievements in space exploration and research, and ponder how to carry forward the spirit of space exploration for the benefit of humankind. China designated April 24 as Space Day in 2016 to mark the launch of the country's first satellite, Dongfanghong 1 on the same day in 1970. As the backbone of the air space industry, the General Design Department of China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp Second Academy, which w ... read more

Voyager will do more science with new power strategy

Creating new and better drugs with protein crystal growth experiments on the ISS

Is sex in space being taken seriously by the emerging space tourism sector?

Russian cosmonauts delay ISS spacewalk

SpaceX delays launch of 46 Starlink satellites

Aerojet Rocketdyne to provide propulsion for three additional Orion spacecraft

Potential Failure Modes of SpaceX's Starship

Rocket ignition test facility opens in Shaanxi

Curiosity: Move slowly and don't break things: Sols 3810-3811

NASA Retires Mineral Mapping Instrument on Mars Orbiter

China releases first panoramic images of Mars

Sols 3812-3813: Tiny Sticks Poking Out at Us

China's space missions break new ground

Space exploration for betterment of humankind

China to promote space science progress on five themes

China to develop satellite constellation for deep space exploration

Viper and T-Rex on double rocket launch

Viasat confirms ViaSat-3 Americas set to launch

CGI to extend machine learning to LEO satellite network optimisation

European Space Agency chief eyes tapping private industry partners

Paving the way for truly intelligent materials

Researchers 3D print a miniature vacuum pump

Researchers capture first atomic-scale images depicting early stages of particle accelerator film formation

Outstanding performance of organic solar cell using tin oxide

UGA researchers discover new planet outside solar system

Scientists discover rare element in exoplanet's atmosphere

TESS celebrates fifth year scanning the sky for new worlds

New stellar danger to planets identified by Chandra

Juice's first taste of science from space

Icy Moonquakes: Surface Shaking Could Trigger Landslides

Europe's Jupiter probe launched

Europe's JUICE mission blasts off towards Jupiter's icy moons

Subscribe Free To Our Daily Newsletters


The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2023 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.