The Chinese rover Yutu-2 found a “gel-like” substance on the far side of the Moon. The mysterious substance was found in a crater.
According to the analysis of the images and comparison with samples collected by Apollo, it is just rock melted together.
According to the authors of the study, published in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters, this substance was probably melted by the impact of a meteorite, forming a dark, glossy, glassy mass.
Chinese scientists are excited about the discovery
The mysterious substance found on the Moon was first observed in late July of 2019 by Yutu-2. The following month the images were released on the Yutu-2 drive diary, maintained by Science Space and sanctioned by the Chinese government.
“Chang’e-4 rover discovered a dark greenish and glistening impact melt breccia in a crater during its traverse on the floor of Von Kármán crater within the South Pole Aitken (SPA) basin on the lunar farside,” the researchers wrote in the article.
They described it as a gel-like substance, something different from the things already found on the Moon. Later, clearer images were revealed.
What is it made of?
A detailed analysis of the images taken by the Yutu-2’s Panoramic Camera, the Visible and Near-Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (VNIS), and hazard avoidance camera, helped to support the idea that the substance was generated by an impact.
According to the analysis, the composition of the substance is 45% plagioclase, 7% pyroxene, and 6% olivine. The researchers also found that the material is greenish in color and measures approximately 52 by 16 centimeters (20 by 6 inches).
It is very similar to samples collected by the Apollo 15 and Apollo 17 missions. Both were found in impact craters, classified as a breccia, which is a type of rock composed of angular fragments of older rocks melded together. In both cases, they are lunar regoliths.
How it was formed
According to the researchers, the substance was created during a meteorite impact. When the meteorite hit the lunar surface, part of the regolith melted and mixed with an unmelted regolith, forming a breccia.
However, this did not happen specifically in the crater where the material was found, but in two different craters. For this reason, scientists believe that the material was formed in one place and ejected, landing where it was found by Yutu-2.