Carbonaceous chondritic impact responsible for lunar water: study

A Chinese research team used data sent home by the Chang’e-4 probe to determine that a meteorite hit the moon about 1 million years ago, according to the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).

The crash event is thought to be related to carbonaceous chondrites, an aqueous class of asteroids, according to Liu Yang of the National Space Science Center (NSSC) during the CAS in an exclusive interview with Xinhua. Liu was a similar author to the study.

Yutu-2, the rover on the Chang’e-4 probe, encountered a small impact crater with a depth of 15 to 20 centimeters and took detailed spectral measurements during the mission’s ninth day of the mission.

After analyzing the high-resolution remote sensing images and the hyperspectral data from Yutu-2, the researchers identified the materials around the center of the crater as remnants of an impact caused by carbonaceous chondrites.

Previous studies have found carbonaceous chondrital fragments in lunar samples brought back by the Apollo program, but this is the first time that carbonaceous chondritic impact residues have been observed directly on the lunar surface by remote sensing, Liu said.

Carbonated chondrites are believed to be among the oldest objects in the solar system and are rich in water and organic matter. Scientists believe that they are probably related to the origin of life on Earth.

If a carbonaceous chondrite hits the moon, some of the water it transported may be retained on the moon, according to Liu.

Previous research has shown that impacts are one of the main sources of water on the moon along with volcanic eruptions and solar winds.

The research team estimated that the impact event occurred up to 1 million years ago – a short time compared to the moon’s geological time scale since its formation and roughly equivalent to a few minutes ago in a person’s lifetime.

The team thus concluded that carbonaceous chondritic influences still provide water to the moon.

The study was published in the journal Nature Astronomy.

Liu’s team also uses data from China’s Mars probe Tianwen-1 to study the ancient aquatic environment on the red planet, he said.

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