For the first time hydrogen is detected in lunar samples

Isbel Lázaro.


Inspenet, November 26, 2023.

Scientists at the US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) have detected hydrogen from the solar wind in samples from the Moon, indicating that water on the lunar surface could be a crucial resource for future lunar bases and space exploration.

The research was published in the journal Communications Earth and Environment .

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The identification of space resources is essential for the planning of space exploration missions by both government and civilian entities. These samples were collected from lunar soil from the Apollo missions and provided to NRL scientists by NASA. Effective utilization of this resource will depend on understanding how and where water is formed and retained in the lunar regolith. Hydrogen from the solar wind, which can generate molecular hydrogen, water or hydroxyl on the lunar surface, exhibits different reactions and retentions depending on the regolith mineral composition, 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 facilities there ,” said Dr. Katherine D. Burgess, geologist in the NRL Materials Science and Technology Division.

Locating resources and understanding how to harvest them before reaching the moon will be incredibly valuable for space exploration .”

The research group continues to examine the lunar surface and asteroid samples to understand the interaction of these surfaces with the space environment, a phenomenon known as space weathering . Previous research with additional samples from the Apollo missions confirmed the presence of helium from the solar wind in lunar soil grains.

This is the first time that scientists have demonstrated the detection of hydrogen-containing species within vesicles in lunar samples ,” Burgess said.

Previously, the same NRL team used cutting-edge 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 showing hydrogen in situ in lunar samples”.

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