Russia is flying to the moon

After two years, will begin a new lunar expedition!

Water on the moon a few percent in the top layer of soil. Somewhere more, somewhere less. In the autumn it was published a detailed map of its distribution, compiled according to the device LEND, engineered by Russian scientists. Now it is preparing an expedition to the water in the polar regions. For the first thirty years of Russian flies to the moon.
Letters ph: + 7 via Daria Zolotukhin, Alexey Torgashev

- You will be convenient to us in the evening to come back later? And then we have these days are completely overwhelmed. Determine the landing on the moon - said by telephone Head of Laboratory Igor Mitrofanov. - According to our map of the distribution of water.

Space power Russia so long since traveled beyond the Earth's orbit, the news about the imminent landing of the machine on the moon, of course, spurs the imagination. And, of course, we went on a Friday night at the Space Research Institute and, of course, caught out there full house staff involved in both the Moon and other planets of the solar system.

Many lunar ice

To wall poster nailed buttons chip value of the average car. Brutally nailed, right through. But she did not die from it. "Died heroically in the fight against high voltage" - follows from the print on the sheet under the chip.

The board, the inscription and the actual wall, on which all this joy is present, are in the lab space gamma spectroscopy of the Moscow Institute of Space Research. Laboratory - a large room with technical and office tables, divided by partitions into several compartments.

On your office desk, as it should, paper and computers engineering - various electronics, including a detector for the future of the American rover. It is this metal box thirty centimeters in length by six months to go to Mars to look for water, and we, the journalists, of course, could not resist, they touched. So now, if life on Mars is found, we'll know whose it is bacteria. However, we were assured that necessarily wash the box before sending ...

A deceased chip was tested for another detector - LEND, which became part of American instruments apparatus LRO, successfully launched in 2009 and is now flying around the moon at an altitude of 50 kilometers. Naturally, LEND flew with another live pay-inside. His task is the same - to look for water on the Moon. About the lunar water we came to talk with the staff of the laboratory.

- This device is designed to search for water ice in the lunar soil, - says Igor Mitrofanov, head of the project. - He flies above the surface and sees a change in the composition of soil with a resolution of ten kilometers. Here is a map, so to speak, the humidity of the Moon, we have already built.

- And a lot of water found? - Ask.

- It is enough - a few percent.

When the Americans run our LEND device on board, about the ice on the moon, little was known. It was clear that it is primarily in the form of remnants of comets, which are already four billion years cut into our companion. There was a second assumption: that the water can be formed in the chemical reactions of the solar wind with the lunar soil, regolith. In any case, the ice on the Moon, Americans discovered during the mission "Clementine" in 1993-94 (January 25 1994). But everybody thought that if the water is somewhere and preserved in significant quantities, probably, in the eternal shadows of craters on the North and South Poles. It was not so.

- You see, black contours outlined the so-called permanently shadowed areas - Mitrofanov map shows the distribution of water on the moon. - In the polar regions of the sun is low on the horizon, so if there is a crater, over the crest of his rays never reach. We expected that ice substantially and there is found because elsewhere in the water was evaporated by heating. But it turned out that the water content is not particularly dependent on opacity.

The map shows the blue place where a lot of water, and the yellow and red - which is not enough. Brain usual correlates with earth image maps, and with him, the brain, it turns out that the moon downright oceans. In fact, the amount of frozen ice particles in the red areas differs from blue by a few percent. Indeed, blue areas does not coincide with craters. Scientists believe that the water in the illuminated areas are under a layer of soil. After regolith - a very good thermal insulator, so a dozen centimeters from the surface of the already hot sun cold space.

- How did you and fifty kilometers, these percentages think? - Ask.

- And believe - says Mitrofanov. - The principle of what? The instrument detects neutrons that are emitted from the lunar soil in the interaction of cosmic particles. The number of these neutrons depends on the composition of the soil, especially the amount of hydrogen. Because neutron colliding with an atom of hydrogen, loses half its energy, slows down and can be absorbed. That is, where a lot of hydrogen, neutron small. A hydrogen on the moon just to be in the composition of water ice.

- And why the device was calling?

- Because the neutron is really small. We register only five neutrons per second. We made the most sensitive counters. Well ... Yes, that's Maxim ask it - the developer. Maxim, tell me how to do!

Mokrousov Maxim, a young man with confident movements and voice, pushed the table, which is an engineering sample LEND.

-ABOUT! - He says. - First, the development cycle of the device an average of five years, and LEND we developed very quickly, two and a half years. Secondly, in an ideal case, all tests are successfully. Here it was not so. There were a few failures, and in those circumstances, that seems to be a hundred times were: the two-day work, while the third - the refusal. To the sensitivity was high, we strengthen the weak currents. And here we have a breakdown spark, and due to increased high voltage came to the integrated circuit. It cuts down the brain. These boards are just so burnt, two pieces. Then he understood: it turned out, the varnish that covers the chip, begins to evaporate at high temperatures. And walking through the gas sample. It's no way to pinpoint, but to guess! - Maxim expressively pointing at his head.


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