China's Chang'e 5 mission has identified unexplored lunar terrain.
The Chinese Chang’e 5 mission continues making history by producing new scientific discoveries from its lunar exploration. Now, scientists from China have identified exotic materials in the samples that the Chang’e 5 mission returned to Earth. According to experts, the samples point towards a yet unexplored lunar terrain. The Chang’e-5 mission landed in the Mons Rümker region, in the Moon’s northern Oceanus Procellarum. It returned to Earth with 1,731 kilograms of lunar regolith. The exotic clasts identified by Chang’e 5 could provide crucial information about the lithological diversity and the regolith formation process in the young region of the lunar maria.
Chang’e 5: Exotic materials
The seven exotic clasts identified from more than 3,000 regolith particles from Chang’e-5 include a high-Ti (titanium) vitrophyric fragment, a low-Ti basalt, an olivine-pyroxenite, a magnesian anorthosite, an evolved lithology, a fragment of olivine-rich in Mg (magnesium) and a pyroclastic glass bead. Researchers from the Institute of Geochemistry of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (IGCAS) associated these exotic igneous clasts with materials ejected by impact from other regions of the Moon. Some are more than 50-400 kilometers away from the Chang’e-5 sampling area.
Comparing to Apollo
By comparison with moon rocks from the Apollo missions, the researchers found that three exotic igneous clasts from the Chang’e-5 regolith exhibited unusual petrological and compositional characteristics. The high-Ti vitrophyric fragment had a unique mineralogy among lunar basalts, probably representing a new type of lunar basalt. The magnesium anorthosite fragment, which was not observed in the Apollo samples, demonstrates that magnesium anorthosite is also an essential component of the nearby lunar crust. Furthermore, the identification of unusual lunar rocks in the Chang’e-5 sample indicates that the lunar crust’s lithological components and magmatic activities are more diverse than previously thought. The study has been published in Nature Astronomy.