China discovers a new mineral on the moon that is a phosphate in crystal form
China has discovered a new mineral on the moon, a columnar crystal phosphate mineral called Changesite-(Y), which was identified in rock and soil samples it brought back from the lunar surface in 2020.
The mineral was carefully separated from more than 140,000 small particles by researchers and then analyzed using a range of advanced mineralogical methods, according to the Beijing Research Institute of Uranium Geology, one of the main institutes of China National Nuclear Corp. It is not yet known if the new mineral has properties, can it be used on Earth.
The announcement puts China as only the third to find a new mineral on the moon — the US and Russia are the first and second — and the discovery is the sixth new organic formation discovered since the first samples were returned by NASA’s Apollo 11 in 1969.
Changesite-(Y) falls into the category of lunar merrillite, a mineral found in moon rocks and meteorites, and is the sixth new mineral found by humans since the first samples were collected during the Apollo 11 mission in 1969.
China is the third country to discover a new mineral on the moon. Pictured is a collection of the new mineral in a sterilized container
China’s Chang’e-5 probe returned to Earth on December 17, 2020 with the country’s first lunar samples stored in it.
The collection of rocks is said to be billions of years younger than those obtained by the US and Russia, the Soviet Union at the time of their mission to the moon.
The age of the rocks and soil should help scientists fill a gap in understanding the history of the moon between about a billion and three billion years ago, Brad Jolliff, director of the McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences at the Washington University in the US city of St. Louis, said in a February statement as China showed the world a glimpse of its wealth of lunar rocks and soil.
The samples could also provide clues about the availability of economically useful resources on the moon, such as concentrated hydrogen and oxygen, Jolliff said.
The announcement keeps China in the space race against the US that has tightened in recent years.
And the pair battle it out to see who can lay claim to the moon.
In July, NASA administrator Bill Nelson told Bild that the US is now engaged in a space race with China.
The new mineral is a phosphate in columnar crystal that Chinese officials called Changesite-(Y). It was identified in rock and soil samples it brought from the lunar surface in 2020
The mineral was carefully separated by researchers from more than 140,000 small particles (pictured) and then analyzed using a range of advanced mineralogical methods.
“We should be very concerned that China will land on the moon and say, ‘It’s ours now and you stay out,'” he told the German newspaper.
However, China did not take the allegations lightly.
Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, said in a statement: “This is not the first time the head of the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration has ignored the facts and spoke irresponsibly about China.
“The American side has been constantly launching smear campaigns against China’s normal and reasonable efforts in space, and China strongly opposes such irresponsible remarks.”
Nelson also said Chinese astronauts are being trained to destroy other countries’ satellites and that the country has “stole ideas and technology from others” to make its claim to the moon.
Zhao said Beijing has always advocated peaceful uses of space and opposed its arming.
“The development of China’s aerospace industry has come about entirely through independence and self-reliance, and its rights and achievements cannot be questioned or discredited in any way,” Zhao said.
China’s Chang’e-5 probe returned to Earth on December 17, 2020 with the country’s first lunar samples stored in it
NASA appears to be threatened by China’s entry into the space race, as the nation is the most recent space agency to venture to the moon.
It was revealed this month that China is monitoring the same moon landing sites as NASA for its first mission to send humans to the moon.
The US space agency announced in August that it has selected 13 possible landing sites for its Artemis III mission, 10 of which overlap with China’s mission.
The overlapping locations are partly the result of the area’s higher elevation, good lighting and the proximity of shadowed craters that can trap water ice, according to SpaceNews, which first reported the overlap.