Chinese scientists explain the mystery of the dark green blob found on the moon in 2019, which they say is a glassy blend of minerals fused by an asteroid impact
- Researchers in China analyzed a mysterious gel-like substance from the moon
- Originally found in 2019, it turns out to be a molten mixture of minerals
- The original description as ‘gel-like’ was probably due to an incorrect translation
Chinese scientists have found the chemical composition and likely origin of a mysterious gel-like substance found on the moon in 2019.
The dark green material was first sighted by the Chinese Yutu-2 rover while exploring terrain near the Von Kármán crater, a famous impact site on the far side of the moon about 110 miles in diameter.
New analysis by a group of researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences confirms that the substance was not really a gel, but a hard and glassy mineral compound melted over high heat and reformed by an ancient asteroid impact.
Chinese scientists studied the composition of a mysterious gel-like substance found on the moon in 2019 and discovered that it was actually a blend of minerals melted and reformed in an ancient asteroid impact
The team specifically identified it as a form of breccia, a type of stone formed by mineral fragments that are “cemented” together by an external force.
According to the team, the fabric was “formed by impact-generated welding, cementation, and agglutination of lunar regolinity and breccia.”
The substance initially caught the attention of scientists who piloted the Yutu-2 rover due to the difference from the surrounding soil at the Von Kármán crater, according to a report in Newsweek.
At the time, it was commonly described as dark green and ‘gel-like’ due to the way it appeared through the rover camera, with a glossy sheen that contrasted sharply with the dry lunar soil surrounding it.
It is likely that the first wave of reports on the substance was due to a mistranslation of the original documents shared by the Chinese authorities.
The soil samples stood out for their glossy shine, but reporting that it was actually a gel is now attributed to a mistranslation of the original reports from Chinese
The first discovery was made by the Chinese Yutu-2 lunar rover while examining the Von Kármán crater on the far side of the moon
Some had suggested that the substance may have come from volcanic activity, but the Chinese researchers later ruled out that because the moon has seen no active volcanoes for more than three billion years.
Instead, the team determined that the substance was a mix of pagioclase, a white-gray crystal, iron-magnesium silicate, olivine, and pyroxene, all of which were melted and mixed by the heat of an asteroid impact.
Scientists are still amazed at how the substance got into the Von Kármán crater, given how different it is from the surrounding soil.
The researchers suggest that the most likely explanation is that it was thrown a considerable distance from a particularly intense impact, although where and when the impact occurred is still unknown.
A TIMELINE OF HOW CHINA HAS REACHED THE FAR SIDE OF THE MOON
Chang’e-4 launched from the Xichang satellite launch center in Sichuan, southwest China on December 7 at 6:30 GMT
October 24, 2007 – China launches Chang’e-1, an unmanned satellite, into space where it will remain operational for more than a year.
October 1, 2010 – China launches Chang’e-2. This was part of the first phase of the Chinese lunar program. It was in a 100 km high lunar orbit to collect data for the upcoming Chang’e-3 mission.
September 29, 2011 – China launched Tiangong 1.
September 15, 2013 – A second space lab, Tiangong 2, is launched.
December 1, 2013 – Chang’e-3 launched.
December 14, 2013 – Chang’e-3, a 2,600-pound (1,200 kg) moon probe successfully landed on the near side of the moon. It became the first object to make soft land on the moon since Luna 24 in 1976.
April 1, 2018 – Tiangong-1 crashed to Earth at a speed of 17,000 mph and lands in the ocean off the coast as Tahiti.
May 20, 2018 – China launched a relay satellite called Queqiao that is stationed in an operational orbit about 40,000 miles past the moon. This is designed to enable Chang’e-4 to communicate with engineers back on Earth.
The Chang’e-4 lunar rover will be lifted into space on December 7 from the Xichang Launch Center at Xichang in southwestern Sichuan Province, China
December 7, 2018 – Chinese space agency announces it has launched the Chang’e-4 probe into space.
December 12, 2018 – Retrorockets on the probe have been fired to stabilize and slow down the spacecraft.
December 31, 2018 – The probe prepared for the very first soft landing on the far side of the moon.
Estimated for 2020 – Tiangong 3, a follow-up mission to Tiangong-2
Before 2033 – China plans its first exploration program on Mars.
2040 – 2060 – The Asian superpower plans a manned mission to Mars.