Beijing, May 16 (IANS) The Chang e-4 mission in China, the first to land on the far side of the moon, sheds light on one of the greatest mysteries of the moon, according to a new study.
The study detailing his findings was published Wednesday in the journal Nature, adding that impact craters are how researchers can learn more about the evolution of the moon and how they formed, reports CNN.
Chang e-4 landed in the Von Karman crater on January 3rd. Then he deployed the Yutu-2 rover.
The purpose of the rover was to explore the South Pole-Aitken basin, the oldest and largest crater on the far side of the moon, which is 1,553 miles across.
The data samples collected by the rover on the floor of the basin indicated traces of olivine. The deepest impact samples within the basin revealed more olivine. Because the basalt contains both, the researchers theorized that the mantle could contain olivine and pyroxene equally, rather than being dominated by one.
The rover will have to explore more of his landing site to understand the composition of the mantle, but the first mission on the far side of the moon is already gathering crucial data.
Subsequently, Yutu-2 will sample more material from the crater floor to determine its origin, and the researchers are evaluating the possibility of returning samples to Earth.
"Understanding the composition of the lunar mantle is fundamental to verify if an ocean of magma has ever existed, as postulated," said Li Chunlai, author of the study and professor of the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said in a note.
"It also helps to advance our understanding of the thermal and magmatic evolution of the moon."