The first mission on the far side of the moon seems to have found fragments of subsoil on the surface of the satellite. Lunar Rover “WiTu-2” deployed from the spacecraft “Chang’e-4” in January, found the soil rich in minerals, which consists of the lunar mantle. Research on this subject appeared on may 16 in the journal Nature. If the origin soil is confirmed, we will get a glimpse of the early development of the moon. “Understanding the composition of the lunar mantle is the key to determining how the Moon was formed and evolved,” says mark vichorek, a geophysicist from the Observatory of the côte d’azur in nice, France. “We have no clear, unchanging samples of the lunar mantle” from previous lunar missions.
What is the Moon?
Hoping to find samples of the mantle “Chang’e-4” has landed in the biggest shock of the moon pool, in the pool South pole — Aitken. It is believed that the collision which formed this huge pool, it was powerful enough to penetrate the moon’s crust and expose the mantle rocks at the surface of the satellite. During your first day on the moon “UTU-2” recorded the spectra of light reflected from the lunar soil at two points using their spectrometer in the visible and near-infrared spectra.
When the researchers analyzed these spectra, what he saw was very different from the ordinary materials of the lunar surface, says one of the authors Dawei Liu, a planetary scientist from the National astronomical observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.
Spectra of “UTU-2” showed that in the soil is dominated by olivine and pyroxene of low calcium content, which were considered, are components of the lunar mantle. In one place was about 48% of olivine, 42% clinopyroxene; only 10% of the lunar crust made up pyroxene with a high content of calcium. Another place showed 55% olivine, 38% pyroxene low in calcium and 7% pyroxene with a high content of calcium.
“A required follow up” to confirm that this material is indeed from the mantle, said Daniel Moriarty, a lunar geologist from space flight Center. Goddard in Greenbelt. This is due to the fact that other materials in the lunar crust such as plagioclase, can create spectral signatures resembling olivine.
According to planetary scientist Jay Melosh from Purdue University, “UTU-2” could more accurately identify the material of the mantle, studying the spectra of specific rocks, not mineral mixtures in the soil. “It would be much better if we could have samples on Earth” for laboratory tests to separate different mineral components.
Lunar Rover “WiTu-2” will continue to explore the materials on the moon in preparation for a future mission to return samples to Earth.
The chemical composition of the material of the mantle may help to clarify the early history of the moon. Scientists believe that billions of years ago the Moon was partially or completely molten. When the Moon cooled and solidified, materials of different density is divided into mantle and crust. We are now at the stage where scientists propose various models of crystallization process. These models predict different contents of olivine and pyroxene in the upper mantle. Samples of the lunar interior can help you to determine which models best describe the evolution of the moon.
A more detailed picture of the inner part of the moon can also shed light on planetary evolution as a whole, says a planetary scientist, Brioni Horgan. Unlike Earth, the moon has no tectonic plates, which shuffle the material surface or pull ocean water into the mantle when plates slide one beneath the other. The moon offers a unique look at the inner workings of a planetary body, which is very different from Earth.
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