Research

Chinese lunar rover finds 'gel-like' substance on moon

Chinese lunar rover finds 'gel-like' substance on moon

It woke up again on August 25 for the next lunar day and continues its journey towards the west in search of new discoveries.

Scientists that are not involved in the Chinese lunar mission, though, have speculated that the discovery might be melted glass, which was perhaps created during an impact event at some point in the moon's past. The substance was found on 28 July, during "day 8" of an exploration mission to a region covered in small impact craters.

Scientists working on the Chang'e-4 mission were about to power down the rover for a "nap" when they noticed a crater with a unusual substance depicted on Yutu-2's main camera.

From there, the operating team spoke with lunar scientists and they made a decision to keep the rover on and investigate the oddity. Intriguingly, Yu Tianyi, who works on the rover's drive team, confirmed to the Chinese-language website Our Space that the goo's color was "significantly different from the surrounding lunar soil". Still, they had no idea what they were looking at apart from reporting the material is "gel-like" and isn't a color that is seen on the lunar surface. Previously it found minerals which may have come from deep beneath the lunar surface, and now it has found something even stranger: An oddly-colored "gel-like" substance of unknown origin. Instead, the team members made a decision to focus on the odd substance in an attempt to determine its exact nature.

This isn't the first time something outside the usual expectations of gray lunar dust has been discovered on the moon.

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Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt spotted orange-coloured regolith near the mission's Taurus-Littrow landing site in 1972. It was determined that the soil was created following a volcanic eruption on the Moon 3.64 billion years ago.

One theory is that the material is an impactite, a substance which is formed when meteors hit an object in space.

The seedlings on Chang'e-4 have all died due to the freezing temperatures on the Moon.

China's Yutu-2 lunar rover has discovered a unusual "gel-like" substance on the dark side of the moon.