China announced last Friday that it had discovered a previously unknown mineral in samples from the moon.
The mineral, named “Changesite-(Y)”, was named after Chang’e, a moon goddess in Chinese mythology and namesake of the Chang’e-5 mission, which sampled lunar dust in 2020.
China’s sample weighed about 1.73 kg (3.8 lbs) on Earth. It was collected from both the lunar surface and about 6.5 meters below the surface in an area believed to have been the site of volcanic activity. The loot was shared among 33 research organizations.
A joint Notice from the China National Space Administration (CNSA) and China Atomic Energy Authority (CAEA) described the samples as “a phosphate mineral in the form of columnar crystals found in lunar basalt particles.”
The crystal structure was separated by X-ray diffraction and studied by researchers at the Beijing Research Institute of Uranium Geology, a subsidiary of China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC). They found a single crystal particle about 10 microns in diameter among the 140,000 lunar sample particles.
The metaphorical needle in the haystack was a crystal that according to state-sponsored media, was a tenth the size of a human hair. If you prefer The registry unit normsthat corresponds to one millionth of a linguine.
Unobserved minerals have previously been found on the moon by both the United States and Russia. Changesite – (Y) is the sixth lunar mineral discovered and has received approval from the organization that monitors new minerals, the International Mineralogical Association’s Commission on New Minerals, Nomenclature and Classification.
China’s sample was also measured for the concentration of helium-3.
Finding helium-3 on the moon isn’t breaking news: it’s long been known to be more abundant on Luna’s surface than here on Earth, where it’s extremely rare. What seems to excite researchers, however, is evaluating its potential as a future fusion power source; It is capable of releasing large amounts of energy without rendering the surrounding material radioactive.
The valuable gas is also extremely useful for cooling quantum machines.
CNSA and CAEA said they “held the concept of peaceful uses of outer space and peaceful uses of nuclear energy” while continuing to work on integrating the two technologies.
The two organizations also stated that the duo “as relevant government departments in aerospace and nuclear technology in China” simultaneously contribute to scientific discoveries and international cooperation.
However, how international cooperation will develop in an increasingly tense geopolitical climate remains to be seen. The British Imperial College has allegedly decided to shut down two aerospace research centers sponsored by China after warning they could unintentionally help the Chinese military.
Organizations such as MI5 and the FBI have published frequently warnings Chinese espionage and the CCP’s strong long game.
https://www.theregister.com/2022/09/12/china_discovers_new_mineral_on/ China discovers new mineral on the moon • The Register