China discovers sixth new lunar mineral following return of Chang'e 5
Chinese astronomers bring back lunar samples and scientists discover the sixth new lunar mineral ranking China third after US and Russia in lunar exploration achievements.
The discovery and identification of the sixth new lunar mineral by Chinese astronomers is an amazing accomplishment in their study of the moon.
The new mineral, Changesite-(Y), was discovered by researchers at the Beijing Research Institute of Uranium Geology from surface samples returned by the nation's Chang'e 5 robotic mission and has been recognized by the International Mineralogical Association and its Commission on New Minerals, Nomenclature, and Classification, according to a joint announcement made on Friday in Beijing by the China National Space Administration and the China Atomic Energy Authority.
At a news conference in Beijing, representatives from the two governmental organizations announced that the Changesite-(Y), a type of lunar merrillite, has become the first lunar mineral ever discovered and identified by Chinese scientists, placing China third in the world behind the US and Russia.
According to the Beijing Research Institute of Uranium Geology, one of the major institutes of China National Nuclear Corp., the mineral sample, which has a single-crystalline particle with a diameter of 10 microns, was manually separated by researchers from more than 140,000 extremely small particles and then examined using a variety of cutting-edge mineralogical techniques.
The finding of the new mineral will significantly benefit scientists in their studies regarding the history and physical characteristics of our moon, according to Li Ziying, the institute's lead scientist for lunar sample research.
The Chang'e 5 robotic mission, one of the most significant space activities in 2020, was launched on November 24 at the Wenchang Space Launch Center in the Hainan Province of South China and safely landed on the moon on December 1 of the same year. After its two Chinese predecessors, Chang'e 3 and 4, it was the third spacecraft in the 21st century to make contact with the lunar surface.
On December 17, 2020, the historic mission carried 1,731 grams of lunar rocks and dirt back to Earth, making history around 44 years after the last lunar materials were brought back from our closest neighbor.
The samples, which weighed roughly 17.5 grams, were separated into 21 lots and sent to researchers from 31 different scientific projects at 13 different domestic research institutes.
The first batch of Chang'e 5 lunar samples was dispersed by the China National Space Administration in July 2021.
After the US and Russia, China became the third nation to collect items from the moon with the 23-day mission, one of China's most complex and difficult space missions.