The first mission to the far side of the moon seems to bediscovered fragments of the subsoil on the surface of the satellite. The Yuuta-2 lunar rover, launched by the Chang'e-4 spacecraft in January, discovered a soil rich in minerals that makes up the lunar mantle. A study on this topic appeared on May 16 in the journal Nature. If the origin of the soil is confirmed, we will get an idea of the early development of the moon. “Understanding the composition of the lunar mantle is the key to determining how the moon was formed and developed,” says Marc Vicorek, a geophysicist at the Cote d'Azur observatory in Nice, France. "We do not have clear, unchanged patterns of the lunar mantle" from past lunar missions.
What does the moon consist of?
Hoping to find patterns of the Chang'e-4 mantlelanded in the moon's largest shock basin, in the South Pole basin - Aitken. It is believed that the collision that formed this huge pool was powerful enough to pierce the lunar crust and expose the mantle stones on the surface of the satellite. During its first day on the moon, Yuytu-2 recorded the spectra of light reflected from the lunar soil at two points, using its visible and near-infrared spectrometer.
When researchers analyzed these spectra,what he saw was very different from the materials of the ordinary lunar surface, says one of the authors of the work, Davei Liu, a planetologist from the National Astronomical Observatory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.
The spectra of "Yuuta-2" showed that in the soilOlivine and low-calcium pyroxene predominate, which were thought to be components of the lunar mantle. In one place was about 48% olivine and 42% pyroxene; only 10% of the lunar crust was pyroxene with a high calcium content. Another spot showed 55% olivine, 38% pyroxene with low calcium and 7% pyroxene with high calcium.
“Follow-up observations are needed” toto confirm that this material is indeed from the mantle, says Daniel Moriarty, lunar geologist from the Center for Space Flight. Goddard in Greenbelt. This is due to the fact that other materials in the lunar crust, such as plagioclase, can create spectral signatures that resemble olivine.
According to planetary scientist Jay Melosh from the UniversityPerdue, Yuytu-2 could more accurately identify the mantle material by studying the spectra of specific rocks, rather than mineral mixtures in the soil. “It would be much better if we had samples on Earth” for laboratory tests to separate the various mineral components.
The Yuuta-2 lunar rover will continue to research materials on the Moon, preparing for a future mission to return samples to Earth.
The chemical composition of mantle materials can helpclarify the early history of the moon. Scientists believe that billions of years ago, the moon was partially or completely melted. When the moon cooled and hardened, materials of different densities divided into the mantle and crust. Now we are at the stage when scientists propose various models of the crystallization process. These models predict different levels of olivine and pyroxene in the upper mantle. Samples of the lunar interior can help determine which models best describe the evolution of the moon.
A more detailed picture of the inner part of the moonmay also shed light on planetary evolution as a whole, says planetary scientist Brioni Horgan. Unlike the Earth, there are no tectonic plates on the Moon that shuffle surface material or draw oceanic water into the mantle when the plates slide one below the other. The moon offers a unique view of the inner workings of the planetary body, which is very different from the Earth.
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