- Scientists have said that they have made a significant progress in solving the mystery behind Moon’s formation after the detailed survey of the far side of the moon made by China’s Chang’e-4. The study has been published in the journal Nature.
- Earlier in 2019, China had achieved a milestone after its spacecraft Chang’e-4 (named after the moon goddess in Chinese mythology) made first-ever soft landing on the far side of the moon. Chang’e 4 lander deployed the rover Yutu-2 in Von Karmen Crater in the Aitken Basin at the moon’s South Pole.
- The far side of the Moon is the hemisphere of the Moon that always faces away from Earth. The far side’s terrain is rugged with a multitude of impact craters. The near side of the moon is the one which face the Earth. This is because the tidal forces from Earth have slowed down the Moon’s rotation to the point where the same side is always facing the Earth. This phenomenon is called tidal locking
- Previous research suggested that the moon was covered with an ocean of magma up to hundreds of miles deep when it was newly formed and still hot from its creation. As this magma ocean cooled and solidified, denser minerals rich in iron and magnesium, such as olivine, sank to the bottom of the magma-ocean. On the other hand, lighter minerals rich in silicon and aluminum, such as plagioclase gathered near the surface. The theory is popularly known as the lunar magma ocean theory.
- Yutu-2 discovered minerals that appeared markedly different from typical lunar surface material, which were likely excavated from below the South Pole-Aitken Basin floor. Materials such as olivine and low-calcium pyroxene that are rare elsewhere on the surface have been detected.
- According to researchers, these materials were ejected from the moon’s upper mantle when it was struck by a meteor. The researchers have claimed that the study support the lunar magma ocean theory, and demonstrate that the magma ocean hypothesis can be used to describe the early evolution history of the moon.
7 min read