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Russian, Chinese scientists get grant for project of discovering water on Moon

January 15, 14:41 UTC+3 BARNAUL

The scientists will explore and develop the physical principles of the ultrasonic drilling of extraterrestrial objects’ surface to discover water and ice, including on the reverse side of the Moon

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© Yuri Smityuk/TASS

BARNAUL, January 15. /TASS/. Scientists of Altai State Technical University (AltSTU) have won a grant of the Russian Fundamental Research Fund and China’s National Natural Science Fund for 2019-2020, Doctor of Technical Sciences, Professor of the Measuring Methods and Instruments and Automation Department at the Biysk Technological Institute (a branch of the AltSTU) Vladimir Khmelyov told TASS.

The scientists will explore and develop the physical principles of the ultrasonic drilling of extraterrestrial objects’ surface to discover water and ice, including on the reverse side of the Moon and Mars, which will help develop lunar and Martian research in the future.

"The grant equals 1.3 million rubles ($19,380) a year while the project is designed for two years. It relates to joint work: we will carry out preliminary research for the Chinese side to study the process of ultrasonic drilling… All missions drill upon landings on the Moon and Mars but they use ordinary, mechanical devices, which causes strong heating, and water and other volatile materials evaporate. Ultrasonic drilling is quite delicate and it should keep water and ice intact and help discover their presence on the lunar or under the lunar surface," Khmelyov said.

According to data of the AltSTU’s press office, the project’s authors are planning to determine the optimal modes of ultrasound drilling to maximally preserve water and ice, which will ensure the authenticity of discovering the traces of water. The project will help develop the scientific basis for creating ultrasonic drilling instruments.

The Russian-Chinese research in this area is one of the prospects of developing the lunar and Marian programs: to find water so that a station can be built on the Moon where humans will live, the researcher said.

Based on indirect explorations, it is assumed that water is located close to the surface of craters up to 10km deep on the reverse side of the Moon. Ultrasonic equipment can be eventually installed on lunar and Martian rovers, Khmelyov said.

The research has been carried out jointly with the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences since 2010, he added.

"Unfortunately, no flights to the reverse side of the Moon are planned in our country to study the soil. The Chinese state plans such work: in December last year, they sent the first probe to the reverse side of the Moon, landed it in a crater and started conducting preliminary research. In subsequent years, they are planning to carry out work already related to drilling. That is why, we are going to work jointly with the Harbin University, which is participating in China’s lunar program," the researcher said.

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