Chinese scientists say they have found a new mineral in dust samples from the moon
The mineral was named Changesite-(Y) in honor of the moon goddess Chang’e from Chinese mythology. It was also named after the Chang’e-5 mission that was able to retrieve a sample of lunar dust in 2020, reports The Register. The dust was collected on the surface of the moon in an area that was probably volcanic, and also at a depth of about 6.5 meters. The weight of this sample was about 1.73 kg, and the dust itself was divided among 33 research organizations.
The China National Space Administration and the China Atomic Energy Authority reported that samples of lunar dust look like “a phosphate mineral in the form of columnar crystals found in lunar basalt particles.” Scientists from the Beijing Research Institute of Uranium Geology studied the crystal structure of the dust using X-ray diffraction. In particular, it was possible to find one crystal particle among 140,000 sample particles with a diameter of about 10 microns. This particle was a crystal that, according to state media, had the size of one-tenth of a human hair.
Minerals that had not been encountered before were also found on the moon by the USA and russia. In general, this is already the sixth new mineral from the surface of the Moon discovered by researchers and recognized by the International Mineralogical Association. This organization is responsible for the development of mineralogy, in particular for the standardization of the nomenclature of more than 4,800 known mineral species. It is also their duty to observe such discoveries.
Helium-3 was also found in a sample of lunar dust. It has been found on the Moon before: compared to the Earth, there is more of it on the surface of the satellite. Scientists believe that the isotope can be used as a source of thermonuclear fusion energy. The fact is that this rare isotope is able to release a large amount of energy without making the surrounding material radioactive. It is also very useful in cooling quantum machines.
The China National Space Administration and the Atomic Energy Authority state that they “adhered to the concept of peaceful use of space and peaceful use of nuclear energy,” and that the organizations, “as the competent government departments in the field of aerospace and nuclear in China”, make a simultaneous contribution to scientific discoveries and international cooperation.
Despite claims of “international cooperation” Imperial College London has closed two Chinese-sponsored aerospace research centers. This comes after warnings that the research could inadvertently help China’s military. In addition, MI5 and the FBI have often warned about Chinese espionage.