Chinese Scientists Discover a New Mineral on Moon
Sept. 9, 2022 (EIRNS)—That announcement was made jointly by the China National Space Administration and the China Atomic Energy Authority on Sept. 9. Changesite-(Y), as the phosphate mineral found in lunar basalt particles has been named, is the first new mineral discovered on the Moon by China, and only the sixth new mineral humanity has discovered so far. The Commission on New Minerals, Nomenclature and Classification (CNMNC) of the International Mineralogical Association (IMA) has confirmed its uniqueness.
The discovery is exciting in multiple ways. The head of the Beijing Research Institute of Uranium Geology (BRIUG) which found it, Li Ziying, believes the discovery will have implications for the study of lunar minerals, lunar evolution, and deep space exploration.
Li pointed to two factors that made this breakthrough possible: technological progress, which allowed the team to identify and isolate a single crystal particle with a radius of about 10 microns through X-ray diffraction; and the unique environment of the sampling site of the Chang’e-5 probe. China chose the northwest region of the Ocean of Storms as the site for its 2020 Chang’e-5 lunar sample retrieval mission, because the region has a relatively young geological age, compared with the sampling areas chosen by the U.S. and Soviet Union.
Many Chinese research centers are working on the samples retrieved from the mission, but the BRIUG team focuses, in particular, on research of fission and fusion elements of the lunar samples, looking for “basic data for the research of lunar evolution and the evaluation of lunar resources,” according to Xinhua.
“In addition to finding the new mineral, the researchers of BRIUG have, for the first time, determined the concentration of helium-3 from lunar soil samples and its extraction parameters, providing fundamental scientific data for lunar resource evaluation and exploration. Scientists believe that helium-3 on the Moon holds promise as a clean, safe, and efficient fuel for nuclear fusion power generation in the future.”
More exciting details are available from Xinhua’s report.