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China has discovered a new type of mineral on the Moon

October 06, 2022

Researchers in China discovered a new type of crystal on the Moon's near side.

Important information

Changesite-(Y), the newly discovered crystal, was named after the Chinese moon goddess Chang'e.This small, transparent crystal was discovered among the volcanic debris on the moon's near side.

It is over a billion years old and has a width comparable to human hair.

It has a distinct composition and is related to minerals found only on the moon's surface or in meteors.

The crystal was discovered among the 1.8 km of lunar rocks returned by the Chang'e-5 mission in 2020.
These are the first lunar samples delivered to Earth since 1976, and the first lunar samples collected by China.
The Changesite-(Y) crystal is the Moon's sixth new mineral discovery and the first identified by China. The previous five discoveries were all made by either the US or Russia.
Helium-3, a form of helium that is extremely rare on Earth but abundant on the Moon, was also found in the lunar samples from Chang'e-5.

It is considered a potential source of fuel for nuclear fusion because it emits less radiation and nuclear waste than other elements.
It is abundant because solar wind deposited it directly onto the lunar soil for billions of years.
Helium-3 is scarce and difficult to obtain on Earth. As a result, its discovery has sparked speculation about a potential lunar resource race.
Several space-faring nations and private companies, including the United States and China, are interested in mining the moon for Helium-3.

The Chang'e-5 Mission

The Chang'e 5 is China's first lunar sample-return mission, which is scheduled to launch in November 2020. It is China's fifth mission to the moon. It will return the sample to Earth in December 2020. It is the first sample-return mission to the Moon since the Soviet Union's Luna 24 mission in 1976. China, after the United States and the Soviet Union, became the third country to return lunar samples to Earth with the Chang'e 5 mission.