China announced on Friday that it had discovered a new mineral on the moon, making it the third country in the world to make such a claim. This is reported by Xinhua.
The new mineral, confirmed by the Commission on New Minerals, Nomenclature and Classification of the International Mineralogical Association, was discovered by the Chang'e-5 space mission on the Moon in 2020 weighing about 1731 grams.
For the first time in four decades, such lunar samples were collected by a Chinese space mission two years ago.
The new mineral was named Changesite-(Y).
Changesite-(Y) is a phosphate mineral found in lunar basalt particles.
Changesite-(Y) is the sixth mineral discovered on the Moon.
The new mineral was tested by experts at the Beijing Geological Research Institute, who, using high-tech tools such as X-ray diffraction, isolated a single crystal particle with a radius of about 10 microns from 140,000 particles in the lunar sample and deciphered its crystal structure.
In addition to the discovery of a new mineral, the researchers determined the concentration of Helium-3 in lunar soil samples for the first time. Scientists believe that helium-3 on the moon can become a clean, safe and efficient fuel for the production of nuclear energy in the future.
The researchers also determined the morphological characteristics of lunar soil particles, creating a scientific basis for studying the formation and evolution of the Moon.
NASA wants to build a lunar space station called Gateway and maintain a permanent presence on the moon to understand how to survive very long space missions before a mission to Mars in the 2030s.
NASA is considering September 23 and 27 as possible dates for the next launch attempt of the Artemis 1 mission to the moon.