Hydrogen From Lunar Samples Can Pave Way For Space Exploration

    Inam Ansari
    November22/ 2023
    Last Updated:

    Hydrogen From Lunar Samples

    New York: Researchers from US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) have discovered solar-wind hydrogen in lunar samples, which indicates that water on the surface of the moon may provide a vital resource for future lunar bases and longer-range space exploration.
    Space-based resource identification is a key factor in planning for civilian and government-led space exploration.
    The samples were identified from Apollo lunar soil, provided by a NASA research mission to NRL scientists for investigation and testing.
    Effective use of the resource depends on developing an understanding of where and how within the regolith the water is formed and retained.
    Solar wind hydrogen, which can form molecular hydrogen, water and/or hydroxyl on the lunar surface, reacts and is retained differently depending on regolith mineral content, thermal history, and other variables.
    "Hydrogen has the potential to be a resource that can be used directly on the lunar surface when there are more regular or permanent installations there," said Dr Katherine D. Burgess, geologist in NRL's Materials Science and Technology Division.
    "Locating resources and understanding how to collect them prior to getting to the moon is going to be incredibly valuable for space exploration."
    The research team continues to study lunar surface and asteroidal samples to gain an understanding of how surfaces interact with the space environment, which is known as space weathering. Previous testing from additional Apollo samples confirmed the location of solar wind helium in lunar soil grains.
    "This is the first time scientists have demonstrated the detection of hydrogen-bearing species within vesicles in lunar samples," said Burgess.
    "Previously, the same team at NRL used state-of-the-art techniques such as scanning transmission electron microscopy and electron energy loss spectroscopy to detect helium in lunar samples, and other researchers have found water in other planetary samples, but this is the first publication to show hydrogen in-situ in lunar samples."
    The research is published in the Communications Earth and Environment journal. —IAN