Beijing, Sep 9 (EFE).- Chinese scientists have discovered a previously unknown mineral on the Moon, the state media said on Friday, in a breakthrough that brings them a step closer to understanding the origin and evolution of the satellite.
The discovery made China the third country after the United States and Russia to find a new mineral on the lunar surface.
Dong Baotong, vice chairman of the China Atomic Energy Authority, told reporters on Friday that they have named the mineral Changesite-(Y).
The official Global Times quoting Baotong said it is a phosphate mineral in columnar crystal found in lunar basalt particles, Baotong said.
The scientists found the mineral from the samples collected by the Chang’e-5 mission from the lunar surface in 2020.
The mission retrieved samples from the Moon weighing about 1,731 grams – the first lunar samples collected in over 40 years.
The scientists reckon that the new mineral and the subsequent study were of great importance in understanding the origin and evolution of the Moon.
The discovery will also help in exploring the use of Moon resources effectively.
The Commission on New Minerals, Nomenclature and Classification (CNMNC) of the International Mineralogical Association (IMA) has endorsed it as a new mineral.
Chinese scientists found high-pressure minerals in samples collected on 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 the solid rocks of the Moon.
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 like the successful landing of a probe on the Moon’s far side in January 2019, becoming the first country to do so. EFE