Publicado: Vie, May 17, 2019
Ciencia | Por Aurelio Ontiveros

Chinese researchers present evidence of mantle material on far side of Moon

Chinese researchers present evidence of mantle material on far side of Moon

Measurements from China's Chang'e-4 mission to the far side of the Moon have revealed the presence of material from the lunar mantle at the landing site, according to a study published online Wednesday in the journal Nature.

Photo taken by the rover Yutu-2 (Jade Rabbit-2) on January 11, 2019 shows the lander of the Chang'e-4 probe.

Like numerous other rocky bodies in the inner solar system, the Moon, too, was covered in an ocean of magma that was hundreds of kilometres deep for millions of it years after it was formed, past research has suggested.

The rover's goal was to explore the South Pole-Aitken basin, the oldest and largest crater on the far side of the moon, which is 1,553 miles across.

After Chang'e-4 successfully landed on the Von Karman Crater in SPA Basin on January 3 this year, the Yutu-2 rover obtained good quality spectral data at two sites. The top crusted over in a sheet of mare basalt, encasing a mantle of dense minerals, such as olivine and pyroxene.

"Understanding the composition of the lunar mantel is critical for testing whether a magma ocean ever existed, as postulated", said corresponding author LI Chunlai, a professor of the National Astronomical Observatories of Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC).

Researchers have been trying to understand what the mantle is made of which lies between the crust and the core, CNN reported.

The results "might also affect our understanding of the formation and evolution of planetary interiors", Pinet wrote, saying that more research on the far side of the Moon was "of the utmost importance".

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The researchers expected to find a wealth of excavated mantle material on the flat floor of the SPA basin, since the originating impact would have penetrated well into and past the lunar crust.

"The absence of abundant olivine in the SPA interior remains a conundrum", LI said.

The Yutu-2 rover moves across the far side of the Moon.

The country's space agency claims to have found the first signs of lunar mantle material available for scientific study. During that period, the scientists suspect that heavy metals like iron and magnesium - both of which were prevalent in the new samples - sank below the surface while lighter compounds floated upward, eventually forming the Moon's crust.

The analysis showed the lunar soil in the landing area contains a large amount of olivine, low-calcium pyroxene and a small amount of high-calcium pyroxene, which are very likely from the lunar mantle, Li said.

"Yutu-2will need to explore more to better understand the geology of its landing site, as well as collect much more spectral data to validate its initial findings and to fully understand the composition of the lunar mantle".

Unlike the near side of the moon that always faces the Earth and offers many flat areas to touch down on, the far side is mountainous and rugged.

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