China’s Lunar Lander, Yutu-2, Revealed The Secrets Of The Dark Side Of The Moon

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China’s latest lunar mission started one year ago when the national space agency launched the Chang’e-4 initiative. During the first stage, a specialized communication satellite was placed successfully in a halo orbit. A robotic lander and a rover were launched a few months later, and they managed to reach the orbit of the moon in December 2018.

Yutu-2 is the first rover to land on the dark side of the moon. A new study argues that the rover has managed to find shards from the moon’s mantle, which were spread in the aftermath of a high-power impact which took place in ancient times.

Previous studies inferred that the moon used to be cover by a thick layer of magma during the early formation days, a trait which is shared with most solid bodies. When the magma began to cool and harden, dense minerals which carry a high concentration of iron and magnesium (for example olivine) would tend to crystallize at the base. Lighter minerals, like plagioclase, which are rich in aluminum and silicon, would move towards the surface. This would explain the high amount of plagioclase which is found in moon craters.

China’s Lunar Lander, Yutu-2, Revealed The Secrets Of The Dark Side Of The Moon

This particular theory regarding the formation of the moon is quite popular but also contested, since there was no way to prove that the magma layer featured the proper mix of minerals and features needed to follow the supposed model.

A necessary amount of information about the initial state of the moon can be learned by analyzing the mantle, a layer which is placed between the crust and the core. Past lunar missions failed to obtain samples of the mantle, but the situation has changed.

Yutu-2 has managed to find samples of material which have a significantly different chemical signature in comparison in comparison to other samples found on the surface. The rover will examine more material in the following weeks, in an attempt to discover more information. The results of the study were published in a scientific journal.


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