NASA scientists have simulated a chemical process whereby ingredients for water can be made on the surface of the moon, turning it a chemical plant, an improvement that could assist in the objective of sending humans to establish a presence there. A team from the US space agency used a pc program to simulate the chemistry which dissipates when the solar end pelts the Moon’s surface. When a flow of charged particles known as the solar wind careens on the Moon’s surface in 450 km per second, it enriches the surface of the Moon in components that might make water.
As the Sun flows protons into the Moon, these particles interact with electrons in the lunar surface, making hydrogen atoms, the scientists discovered. These atoms then migrate throughout the surface and then latch on the abundant oxygen molecules bound in the silica along with other oxygen-bearing molecules which make up the lunar soil or the regolith. Together, oxygen and hydrogen make the molecule hydroxyl, a part of water, or H2O, the scientists said.
The entire process is similar to a chemical factory, said William M. Farrell, a plasma physicist in Goddard, adding that each exposed body of silica in the distance – from the Moon down to some little grain of dust – can make hydroxyl and so become a chemical factory for water. Tucker’s simulation shows that as solar wind continually blasts the Moon’s surface, it breaks the bonds between the atoms of silicon-iron and the oxygen that make up the most of the Moon’s soil. This leaves oxygen molecules with unsatisfied obligations. As hydrogen atoms flow throughout the Moon’s surface, they arrive momentarily trapped with the unhinged oxygen. They swim from O to O before eventually diffusing in the Moon’s atmosphere and finally, into space.