The Chinese rover Yutu 2 made another intriguing discovery during its travels on the far side of the Moon, this time transformed into a pair of transparent glass globes.
The rover’s panoramic camera spotted the two glass spheres as they passed through the surface of the Von Karmann crater on the far side of the crater. the moon. Previously Apollo astronauts collected similar glass spheres of roughly the same size, but these examples were mostly dark or opaque.
“The globules simply blow our minds, because they are so unique on the moon,” Zhiyong Xiao, lead author of new research on globules and a planetary scientist at Sun Yat-sen University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said, He said in a statement.
Xiao and his team believe that the small balls, which are between 0.59 and 0.79 inches (1.5 to 2.5 cm) wide, were likely formed by meteor influences. Specifically, the researchers believe the globules were formed from anorthosite, a volcanic rock rich in the mineral feldspar, after a high-energy impact, which melted the rock and reshaped it into spheres.
Xiao described the new discoveries as “the first discovery of large transparent glass spheres on the surface of the moon.” The finding of these balls on the moon, Xiao said, indicates that impacting events on other planetary bodies could also form spectacles with a similar effect. And on the moon, Xiao said that such glass balls must have been commonly produced by ancient influences and could be valuable for understanding the history of early lunar influence.
In addition, with countries now looking to create lunar bases for long-term human habitation, anorthocite could be useful to astronauts looking to produce glass on the Moon, meaning this material may not need to be transported from Earth. “Moon anorthosite is an excellent raw material for making glass with good quality that allows light to enter,” Xiao said.
The researchers are limited in their analysis because they do not have data from the Yutu 2’s spectrophotometer, which could have provided greater insight into the formation of glass spheres. The rover photographed the objects but did not stop to focus the VNIS instrument on collecting the reflected spectra.
The glass globes are the latest in a List of strange discoveries by Yutu 2. Other items include molten shockproof glass, a “landmark”, and a “mysterious hut” on the horizon that turns out to be rabbit shaped rock.
Yutu 2 and Chang’e 4 landed in the crater of Von Kármán in January 2019, making the first-ever landing on the far side of the Moon. The couple’s 40th lunar day was scheduled to begin after sunrise over their location on February 23. The Yutu 2 has covered more than 3,300 feet (1,000 meters) in total.
The research was published on February 26 in the journal Science Bulletin.
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