Chinese scientists have resolved the major mystery behind the mysterious substance, discovered by the Chinese probe “Yuto-2”, on the far side of the moon last year.
A science team from China released its analysis of a dark and shiny green material discovered by the lunar probe – part of the Chang’e-4 mission – in 2019, which caught the attention of many in the space exploration community.
At that time, the Yuto-2 probe team described it as something reminiscent of a “gel”, which looked unusual given the moon’s landscapes are dusty and dry, without any sign of moisture yet.
Now, in an article in the latest edition of Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Guo Sheng and his colleagues explain that they have scanned data from Yuto-2 cameras and an infrared sensor called VNIS, a device that detects light as it scattered or reflected from materials.
The data analysis helped them know exactly what was found in the depth of the von Carman crater in the Antarctic basin “Aitken”, on the far side of the moon a year ago.
Scientists used the so-called “spectral mixing”, a procedure in which the data of VNIS images were divided, so that the possible composition of the mysterious substance could be determined.
Finally, they came up with an answer that was probably the most probable of all. The Chinese scientific team concluded that it “was formed by welding caused by shock, support and agglomeration” of space rocks and breccia, which are broken parts of the metals fixed together.
The authors warned that their analysis was affected by the fact that VNIS images were taken in low-light conditions, and their correction was very difficult.
The Chang’e-4 spacecraft, carrying “Yuto-2”, made its smooth historical landing in the Von Karman crater on the far side of the moon, in January 2019. The probe has crossed the crater for recent months and has turned into a passive mode for energy saving.