China discovers a new mineral on the Moon

Chinese scientists have discovered a new lunar mineral through the investigation of samples returned from the Moon by the Chang'e-5 mission.

This is the first new mineral discovered on the Moon by China and the sixth by mankind . The new finding makes China the third country in the world to have discovered a new mineral on the Moon, said Dong Baotong, deputy director of the CAEA ( China Atomic Energy Authority)  after the United States and Russia.

Lunar samples from the Chang'e 5 mission in a display case at the National Museum of China in Beijing - CCTV

The new mineral, which has been named Changesite-(Y), is a kind of transparent and colorless columnar crystal. It was discovered from an analysis of lunar basalt particles by a research team from the Beijing Uranium Geology Research Institute, a subsidiary of the China National Nuclear Corporation.

Changesite-(Y) has already been officially approved as a new mineral by the Commission on New Minerals, Nomenclature and Classification of the International Mineralogical Association, reports Xinhua.

Li Ziying, research team leader of BRIUG (Beijing Research Institute of Uranium Geology), said the discovery has great scientific significance for the study of lunar minerals, lunar evolution and deep space exploration.

In 2020, the Chang'e-5 mission recovered Moon samples weighing about 1,731 grams, which were the first lunar samples recovered in more than 40 years, specifically in the northwestern region of Oceanus Procellarum, also known as the Ocean of the storms.

This site was chosen because the region is of relatively young geologic age , compared to sampling areas explored by the United States and the former Soviet Union.

As one of many research institutions involved in lunar sample research, BRIUG focuses on fission and fusion element research from lunar samples , providing basic data for lunar evolution research and resource assessment. moles.

When the research team obtained the first 50 milligrams of lunar samples in July 2021 for mineralogical investigation, they found some traces of a new mineral. But they were unable to obtain the ideal data to determine the mineral, since the lunar soil particles were extremely small.

The team then requested a second batch of lunar samples, weighing about 15 milligrams . From more than 140,000 tiny particles, the researchers ultimately selected a pure single crystal particle , which is 10 by 7 by 4 microns in size, less than a tenth of the average diameter of the human hair. The team deciphered its crystalline structure and verified that it is a new mineral.

Reference(s): Xinhua

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