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China discovers new mineral on Moon

Scientists say the new mineral and subsequent study are important to understanding the origin and evolution of the Moon.

September 12, 2022
12 September 2022

Chinese scientists have discovered a previously unknown mineral on the Moon in a breakthrough that brings them a step closer to understanding the origin and evolution of the satellite.

State media said the discovery made China the third country, after the United States and Russia, to find a new mineral on the lunar surface.

China Atomic Energy Authority vice chairman Dong Baotong told reporters on Friday the mineral has been named Changesite-(Y).

The official Global Times, quoting Baotong, said it is a phosphate mineral in columnar crystal found in lunar basalt particles.

The scientists found the mineral in samples collected from the lunar surface during its Chang’e-5 mission in 2020.

The mission retrieved samples from the Moon weighing about 1731 grams – the first lunar samples collected in more than 40 years.

The scientists say the new mineral and subsequent study are important to understanding the origin and evolution of the Moon.

The discovery will also help in exploring the effective use of Moon resources.

The Commission on New Minerals, Nomenclature and Classification of the International Mineralogical Association has endorsed Changesite-(Y) as a new mineral.

Chinese scientists found high-pressure minerals in samples collected from the Moon’s surface by the Chang’e-5 probe in June last year.

They identified fragments of seifertite and stishovite – the minerals formed from silicon dioxide subjected to high temperatures and pressures – in samples from sold rocks. They also found silicon dioxide and silica glass.

The high-pressure minerals formed from meteorite impacts reveal the evolution of lunar soil and the temperature and pressure of the rocks at the time of the collisions suffered by the satellite surface.

Since the exploration of the Moon began, few traces of high-pressure minerals have been found in the samples collected by different missions.

The Chang’e program (named after a goddess who, according to Chinese legend, lives on the Moon) began with the launch of the first probe in 2007.

China has invested heavily in its space program and achieved milestones including the first successful landing of a probe on the Moon’s far side, in January 2019.

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