What samples brought back by China mission tell us about Moon

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China’s Chang’e-5 lunar mission has delivered to Earth nearly 2 kg of rocky fragments and dust from the Moon.

What is the Chang’e-5 lunar mission?

Chang’e 5 lunar mission is the Chinese National Space Administration’s (CNSA) mission to send a robotic spacecraft to the moon to collect samples and return them to Earth for scientific study.

The spacecraft landed on an area of the Moon (the ‘far side’) not sampled by the American or Soviet missions nearly 50 years ago, and thus retrieved fragments of the youngest lunar rocks ever brought back for analysis in laboratories on Earth. The rocks are also different to those returned decades ago.

What are the findings from the samples brought by Chang’e-5?

Around 90% of the materials collected by Chang’e-5 likely derive from the landing site and its immediate surroundings, which are of a type termed ‘mare basalts’. These volcanic rocks are visible to us as the darker grey areas that spilled over much of the nearside of the Moon as ancient eruptions of lava.

Yet 10% percent of the fragments have distinctly different, ‘exotic’ chemical compositions.

Why do these findings matter?

The distinct 10% fragments may preserve records of other parts of the lunar surface, as well as hints of the types of space rocks that have impacted the Moon’s surface.

Moreover, scientists have also looked at the potential sources of beads of rapidly cooled glassy material. They have traced these glassy droplets to extinct volcanic vents known as ‘Rima Mairan’ and ‘Rima Sharp’. These fragments could give insights into past episodes of energetic, fountain-like volcanic activity on the Moon.

Source:  This post is based on the articleWhat samples brought back by China mission tell us about the Moon published in Indian Express on 25th September 2021.

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