China has announced the discovery of an unusual rock fragment on the moon, described by experts as a landmark for space science. The finding is the result of a meteor impact on the Earth’s natural satellite surface and was released by the National Space Administration of China (CNSA).
The object was identified by the Yutu 2 rover, part of the Chang’e 4 mission to explore the celestial body. According to Chinese state media, the resumption of the spacecraft’s activities found the rock specimen after a brief period of “hibernation” at the site. This highlight is due to its elongated and pointed shape, unlike most lunar structures.
According to Dan Moriarty, a member of the Goddard Space Flight Center – NASA program – the rocks usually have a rounded look, due to weathering forces on the Moon. Thus, their surface is geologically active, being shaped by brutal impacts from asteroids. .
“Repeated impacts, stresses from thermal cycles and other types of weathering on the lunar surface tend to break the rocks into more or less spherical shapes at a given time,” the expert told Space.com. Thus, the most widespread hypothesis is that the fragment would have been relatively young and would have recently arrived on the Moon.
The next step in the study will be to analyze the composition of the material to determine its complete origin. For this, the team responsible for the work will use a visible and infrared image spectrometer, called “Visible and Near-infrared Imaging Spectrometer” (VNIS). This instrument is known to investigate a series of rock and regolith samples in the Von Kármán crater, located in the southwest of the satellite.
Therefore, the data provided by the VNIS detections will be important to reveal the formation of the object. Clive Neal, a lunar scientist at the University of Notre Dame, pointed out that, based on the images, “the specimens would be debris from the impact of meteors, instead of being rocks originating from inside the celestial body”, the first theory of their appearance.