China will search for frozen water near the Moon’s South Pole

In the coming years, China plans to send the Chang’e-7 apparatus to the Moon to explore the craters of eternal darkness and find frozen water. This became known from an article published in the scientific journal Space: Science & Technology. Craters of eternal darkness are places on the Moon, the bottom of which never illuminates the Sun, and in which, presumably, can be preserved water ice.

China’s space program includes several phases of lunar exploration. The Chang’e-6 spacecraft is scheduled to launch in 2024 to collect soil samples from the back side of the moon. Then, in about 2026, the Chang’e-7 will be sent to the Moon, which will land in the zone of the South Pole. This is where the search for frozen water will be conducted.

Scientists and engineers from the Space Science Center of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Engineering Center of the Lunar Exploration Program of the China National Space Administration (CNSA) have developed a special flying vehicle that will be able to reach the bottom of the crater. This distinguishes it from traditional lunar rovers, which cannot penetrate such depths. An analyzer mounted on the flying mini-probe will look for water molecules in the layer of frost on the moon’s surface. If molecules are found, the probe’s drilling tool will take a sample of the ice, and a manipulator will move it to the apparatus for spectral analysis.

In addition, the Chang’e-7 orbiter will carry two other devices to study lunar ice. This will provide more complete information on the content and distribution of water ice on the Moon.

The use of lunar water is essential for long-term human habitation on the Moon and in deep space. However, the source of lunar water ice is still a mystery. Therefore, this mission is of great scientific importance.

China’s space program also includes the launch of the Chang’e-8 spacecraft in 2028. It will be used for lunar resource utilization experiments and to build a basic model of the International Lunar Research Station.

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