China’s Chang’e 5 finds first on-site evidence of water on moon’s surface

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China’s Chang’e 5 finds first on-site evidence of water on moon’s surface

  • China’s Chang’e-5 lunar lander has found the first-ever on-site evidence of water on the surface of the moon, lending new evidence to the dryness of the satellite.
  • The study revealed that the lunar soil at the landing site contains less than 120 ppm water or 120 grams water per ton, and a light, vesicular rock carries 180 ppm, which are much drier than that on Earth.


  • Chang'e-5 probe : named after the Chinese Moon goddess.
  • It is the Chinese National Space Administration's (CNSA) lunar sample return mission.
  • The goal of the mission is to land in the Mons Rumker region of the moon.
  • Where it will operate for one lunar day, which is two weeks long and return a 2 kg sample of the lunar rock possibly by digging about 2 metres deep into the surface of the Moon.

Its Importance

  • China's Chang'e-5 lunar mission was the first probe in over four decades to bring back samples of lunar rock from a previously unexplored portion of the Moon.
  • Early in 2019, China's Chang'e-4 probe successfully transmitted images from the far side of the Moon, also referred to as the dark side.
  • This was the first probe to land in this portion of the Moon.

About the context

  • The presence of water had been confirmed by remote observation but the lander has now detected signs of water in rocks and soil.
  • A device on-board the lunar lander measured the spectral reflectance of the regolith and the rock and detected water on the spot for the first time.
  • The water content can be estimated since the water molecule or hydroxyl absorbs at a frequency of about three micrometers.
  • It was the solar wind that contributed to the most humidity of lunar soil as it brought hydrogen that makes up the water, the researchers said.
  • The additional 60 ppm water in the rock may originate from the lunar interior, according to the researchers.
  • The rock is estimated to hail from an older, more humid basaltic unit before being ejected onto the landing site to be picked up by the lunar lander.

Latest findings

  • The study revealed that the moon had turned drier within a certain period, owing probably to the degassing of its mantle reservoir.
  • The Chang’e-5 spacecraft landed on one of the youngest mare basalts located at a mid-high latitude on the moon.
  • It measured water on the spot and retrieved samples weighing 1,731 grams.
  • The returned samples are a mixture of granules both on the surface and beneath.
  • An in-situ probe can measure the outermost layer of the lunar surface.
  • The results are consistent with a preliminary analysis of the returned Chang’e-5 samples, according to the study.

New Developments

  • The findings provide more clues to China’s Chang’e-6 and Chang’e-7 missions.
  • The investigations of lunar water reserves come into light when the building of manned lunar stations are in the pipeline in the next decades.