Chinese scientists find an exotic mineral never seen before in a lunar sample returned to Earth

Chinese scientists find an exotic mineral never seen before in a lunar sample returned to Earth

Scientists have found seven exotic minerals in the fragments that the Chinese probe Chang’e-5 brought to Earth; the findings could help to learn more about the geological formation of the Moon

A group of Chinese researchers has identified a new exotic mineral in a sample taken from the surface of the Moon that was later brought back to Earth, as detailed in a recent study published in the journal Nature.

The mission of the Chinese probe Chang’e-5 returned to our planet with 1,713 kg of lunar regolith, that is, loose, crumbly earth and debris from the surface of the Earth’s satellite, which would be 2,000 million years old.

Exotic moon minerals

The seven identified minerals, important to researchers because they could help record the geological history of the Moon, are considered “exotic” and are believed to come from elsewhere.

The study authors believe that the exotic igneous rocks could have been ejected from other heavily impacted regions of the Moon, more than 400 kilometers away from where Chang’e-5 sampled.

“These exotic igneous clasts would record lithological diversity and regolith gardening processes in young tidal regions of the Moon,” the researchers wrote.

A previously unknown mineral

These elements are a high Ti (titanium) vitrofire fragment, a low Ti basalt, an olivine-pyroxenite, a magnesium anorthosite, an evolved lithology, a Mg (magnesium) rich olivine fragment, and a pyroclastic glass bead.

Among them, the high Ti glassy fragment stands out for having a unique mineralogy among lunar basalts, making it a completely unknown mineral to scientists.

The recent research shows that the lunar rocks collected by the Chinese probe have more diverse lithological components and structures than previously thought, so scientists will continue to study the geology of different unexplored regions of the Moon.