Break-Through Phenomenon Was Just Found On Moon

While you may not know the mineral composition of an asteroid or the exact size of the Milky Way, everyone knows the basic order of the world. But sometimes that natural order is subverted by a monumental find. In fact, a lunar rover scouring the surface of the moon recently uncovered a strange substance amidst the familiar rocks and dust that scientists had long thought was impossible.

Chinese mission

Unlike the space race era, people aren’t going to the moon so much lately. However, scientists are still scouring its surface for clues about the universe. In fact, China launched Yutu-2, an unmanned lunar rover that uncovered something … unusual.

One-of-a-kind images

After landing on the dark side of the moon in late 2018, Yutu-2 started tracking across the lunar surface. It constantly snapped pictures along the way, hoping to capture evidence of anything that could be scientifically significant.

Need to nap

Scientists would eagerly examine each photo after it was beamed back to Earth, but they never spotted anything unusual. The rover needed to “nap” each day, however, giving them some time for extra analysis.

Fine detail

During the rover’s naptime, scientists on Earth analyzed each photo down to the smallest details. As usual, they saw a great deal of dust. But then, in one photo, something abnormal stood out against the moon’s craggy landscape.

Homogenous surface

As you might imagine, the moon’s surface is pretty plain. While there are plenty of ridges and craters, there isn’t a great deal of color variation; just about everything is the same shade of dusty gray.

Something off

In one photo, however, there was a small glint of light. Something was shining at the bottom of a crater. The scientists were perplexed; nothing on the moon should naturally be reflective …

Glint of light

Re-assuming control of the mission’s rover, the researchers guided it back towards the crater in question. If something unexplained was there, they were going to see it up close and personal!

Getting closer

Yutu-2 crested the lip of the crater and dropped down into the dust. After a few quick maneuvers, its spectrometer was able to locate the strange substance. But what had the rover found?

Moon gem

The Chinese scientists carefully maneuvered the rover’s arm towards the strange object. Moments later, a crystalline substance emerged from the dust. But how did that gem end up buried in outer space?

Seeking answers

Given that the rover was still over 200,000 miles away from Earth, it was hard to get a good read on what the material was. One scientist, however, had a good idea…

Liquefied glass

Mahesh Anand, a reader in planetary science at the Open University, suspected that the object could have been liquefied glass; due to the vacuum of space, it would have solidified into what the rover found. But it was still only an initial hunch.

Crater commentary

There were still a lot of unanswered questions about the eerie glimmer on the dark side of the moon. And one revolved around the fact that the substance was discovered inside an impact crater. Given that information, they wondered if the material was similar to another substance that’s actually been observed back on Earth.

Intense heat

See, the reflective material reminded scientists of a similar Earth-side occurrence that could potentially explain its presence on the moon. They wondered: was it glass created by the force and heat of a meteor hitting the moon? One physicist certainly thought so, and he pointed to a clear example that checks a lot of boxes.

Similar to a nuke

“At the site where the first nuclear bomb was tested in New Mexico,” physicist Walter Freeman explained, “there is a glassy mineral called trinitite.” That substance was formed by the energy released in the explosion. Freeman emphasized that without the factors that produce shimmery geological items on Earth — such as rain, volcanoes, or wind — an outside force like a meteor was likely to blame for the lunar object.

Other irregularities

With curiosity mounting, the experts also considered previous finds on past lunar missions. As it turns out, the glass wasn’t the first strange geographic discovery on the moon. In fact, astronauts on Apollo 17 picked up an unusual substance during the time on the lunar surface in 1972.

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