What's wrong with metals on the moon: astronomers are at a dead end

When it comes to the fact that astronauts or research probes "found minerals on the moon", we are talking only about samples from the surface of the Earth's satellite. However, even they were enough for scientists to guess that the bowels of the moon are fraught with many valuable minerals.

In this case, however, mining is hardly of concern to researchers. They have a different task: a group of specialists from the United States and Canada set out to solve the riddle of the strange deficit of precious metals, which, according to modern science, is observed in the lunar mantle. 

About half a century ago, astronauts brought the first samples of soil from the satellite - several hundred kilograms of lunar dust and rock. “In total, thanks to the Apollo and Luna missions, we have collected approximately 400 kilograms of lunar samples. This may sound impressive, but for serious research this is simply not enough, ”explains planetary scientist James Brenan of Dalhousie University in Canada.

What is the easiest way to find out what is hidden inside the cosmic body? That's right, study that little mantle material that sometimes hits the surface. Thus, the basalt rocks delivered by the Apollo 15 and Apollo 17 missions back in 2007 were thoroughly investigated for siderophilic (in other words, “iron-loving”) elements that make up the lunar mantle.

In view of the fact that the solar system has already completed the phase of the great "space construction", there should be many similar minerals on the surface of the moon - they, in particular, can fall on it along with meteorites. But, oddly enough, the measurements showed numbers 10 to 100 times less than expected. Even taking into account the fact that some meteorites may not replenish the mass of the Moon, but, on the contrary, chip off pieces flying into space from it, the situation is far from normal.

Currently, one of the dominant hypotheses for the origin of the Moon states that the satellite was formed from the same substance as the Earth. But, despite the numerous similarities in geochemical composition, there are also enough differences. As a result of the study, scientists have established that siderophilic elements are most likely hidden inside the surface of the moon - they simply hardly come to the surface.

So is the Moon a potential Klondike of all mankind? Alas, the likelihood of this is small. Even if the lunar bowels are rich in metals, they probably will not "ripen" into the semblance of terrestrial ores, which are convenient to mine and process. The expediency of other methods directly depends on how well people will master the space industry and how great their need will be in exploring the depths of the satellite.


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