As the first missionit was almost expected that the Chinese Chang 4 would make some fascinating discoveries. However, the analysis of the lunar crust shows that the mission is also unexpected.
In a study published in Nature magazine on May 16, scientists from the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences reveal the composition of the moon surface of the South Pole-Aitken Pool is a little different than what they expected.
NASA is not the only space agency to try to land on …
One basic theory implies that the Moon is not as cold and dead as it is today. Instead, it probably begins like a giant, melted marble full of oceans of magma. These oceans gradually cooled, depositing heavy minerals such as green olivine or low-calcium pyroxene deeper into the moon's mantle. Less dense minerals flowed to the top, giving the moon a series of obvious geological layers like cosmic onions. The cortex, the topmost layer, is mainly made of aluminum silicate or plagioclase.
"Understanding the composition of the lunar mantle is critical to testing whether there was a magma ocean as postulated," said co-author Li Chunlai in a press release. "It also helps to better understand the thermal and magmatic evolution of the moon."
The understanding of the composition of the mantle gives planetary scientists a better idea of how the interiors of other planetary bodies – including the Earth – can evolve.
The SpongeBob Chang 4 originally landed in the crater Von Kármán, which is on the floor of the South Pole-Aitken Basin in January. The cabin of the plane had then sent a Yutu-2 router equipped with a spectrometer to measure the reflected light. By studying the light reflected from the surface while the scroll rolled on von Karman, scientists managed to find minerals and determine their chemical composition. Instead of seeing a lot of plagyloclaz, the device has discovered dominance of Olivine and Pyroxene, as these elements are expected to deeper into the mantle. The router is exploring near the 72-km Finsen crater, so the minerals may have been scattered on the surface during the creation of this crater. In the 1970s there was no study of the moon mantle. This makes the Chinese mission particularly important, but due to the complexity of exploring minerals from the moon of a planetary body hundreds of thousands of kilometers, further work will be needed to gain a more complete understanding of the composition of the mantle.