China’s Chang’e-4 lander detects structures under the dark side of the moon

Scientists have just discovered secrets buried beneath the moon’s surface dating back billions of years.

Our celestial companion has been a source of awe and mystery since time immemorial, but now, thanks to China’s space programme, we are beginning to piece its past together.

In 2018, the China National Space Administration’s (CNSA) Chang’e-4 lander became the first spacecraft ever to land on the far side (or dark side, if you prefer) of the Moon.

Since then, stunning images of impact craters have been captured and mineral samples recovered, providing long-awaited insight into the structures that make up the top 1,000 feet of the moon’s surface.

Earlier this month, the Chang’e-4 results were finally published, and the world was invited to delve into the history of our cherished natural satellite.

The results were published in Journal of Geophysical Research: PlanetsIt reveals that the top 130 feet (40 meters) of the moon’s surface is composed of multiple layers of dust, soil, and broken rock.

Hidden within these layers is a crater, which was formed when a large object collided with the moon, according to Jianqing Feng, an astrophysicist at the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona, who co-led the groundbreaking analysis.

Chang’e 4 Lander and Rover on the Moon CNSA

Beneath this, Feng and his colleagues discovered five distinct layers of lunar lava that spread across the landscape billions of years ago.

Experts believe that our moon was formed 4.51 billion years ago, when a Mars-sized object collided with the Earth and broke off a piece of our planet. live science Notes.

Over the next 200 million years or so, the Moon continued to be hit by space debris, creating numerous impacts that left cracks in its surface.

Just like on Earth, the Moon’s mantle contains pockets of molten magma, which has seeped into newly formed fissures thanks to a series of volcanic eruptions, Feng explained.

However, new data provided by Chang’e-4 showed that the closer the volcanic rocks are to the moon’s surface, the thinner they become.

“(The moon) was slowly cooling and running out of steam in its later volcanic phase,” Feng said. “Her energy became weak over time.”

Daedalus Crater on the far side of the Moon as seen from the Apollo 11 spacecraft NASA

Volcanic activity on the Moon is understood to have ceased between 1 billion and 100 million years ago, meaning it is largely considered “geologically dead”.

However, Feng and his co-authors suggested that there could be magma buried deep beneath the moon’s surface.

Chang’e-4 still has a lot of work to do, and Feng and his team hope this is just the beginning of their groundbreaking mapping of the Moon.

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