Published on October 10, 2021 07:40
Chinese lunar samples suggest that the moon has cooled down later than assumed
BEIJING (Reuters) – Residues of solidified lava brought back by a Chinese mission were 1 billion years younger than material acquired by other missions decades ago, according to an article in the journal Science suggesting that the moon was cooled down later than assumed.
Samples taken back from American and Soviet missions were more than 2.9 billion years old. The samples acquired on China’s Chang e -5 mission at the end of last year – about 1.96 billion years old – suggest that volcanic activity continued longer than previously expected.
Last December, the unoccupied Chinese probe touched a previously unvisited part of a massive lava plain, Oceanus Procellarum or “Oceans of Storms”. About 1,731 grams of lunar samples were later retrieved and brought back to Earth. Read more
One of the main goals of Chang e-5, named after the mythical Chinese goddess of the moon, was to find out how long the moon remained volcanically active.
“The Oceanus Procellarum region on the Moon is characterized by high concentrations of potassium, thorium and uranium, elements that generate heat through long-lived radioactive decay and can have sustained prolonged magmatic activity on the nearest side of the Moon,” wrote the article’s authors, including Chinese researchers.
The article said that the heat source for the magmatic activity may also be due to so-called “tidal warming” or heat generated by the earth’s gravitational pull and pull.
The Chang e-5 mission made China the third country to ever take lunar samples after the United States and the Soviet Union, which 45 years ago launched the last successful mission to acquire material from the moon.
China plans to launch Chang e-6 and Chang e-7 lunar missions, also unoccupied, over the next five years to explore the moon’s south pole.