A surprising discovery of moon’s mantle found by China’s Lunar Rover

The Yutu-2 made some enchanting discoveries on the far side of the moon.

The discoveries made by the Chinese Lunar Rover doesn’t exactly fall in line with the core theory made by scientists about the origins of the moon. The theory suggests the moon likely began as a giant, molten marble full of magma oceans. These oceans cooled, depositing heavy minerals, such as pyroxene and olivine, into the lunar mantle. Less dense materials were believed to have floated to the top (based on the basic laws of matter). Thus, the crust (the uppermost layer) was believed to have been composed mostly of aluminum silicate or plagioclase.

The Rover, Yutu-2, was dispatched that was equipped with a spectrometer that measures reflected light. By studying the reflected light, scientists were able to detect the mineral’s chemical composition in the surface. Instead of seeing a lot of plagioclase, the rover detected a lot of pyroxene and olivine, which were expected to be deeper in the mantle.

This was the first study of the lunar mantle and further work will be needed to gather a more complete understanding of the mantle’s composition.

-Tahmid Islam

Co-Founder and Editor of StemTalksNC

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