China’s CNSA space program has detected water signals directly from the moon’s surface, thanks to the Chang’e -5 lunar probe.
The new discovery is another milestone for the CNSA, a program that ambitiously moves ahead of two historic space superpowers – the United States and Russia.
In recent years, thanks to numerous orbital observations and measurements, water has been discovered on the Moon. Last year, California company Masten Space System announced that it was developing a robotic rover that could mine ice on the moon to provide water and oxygen to future stations.
According to the Chinese space program, a rover or lunar probe has never detected water on the moon. In a new study published in Science Advances, scientists described in detail how the lunar surface of the probe landed contained less than 120 grams of water per tonne. All readings are much smaller than on Earth, but the presence of water near the probe is confirmed.
Chang’e-5 uses a mineralogical spectrometer to measure spectral reflections and rocks. The results are in line with the first analysis of rock samples taken using the probe.