What Chang’e 4 learned from the moon’s far side

earthsky.org | 5/22/2019 | Deborah Byrd
Click For Photo: https://en.es-static.us/upl/2019/05/moon-landings-lunar-topography-cp-300x169.jpg

Right, the moon’s near side, and the landing sites of spacecraft sent by various countries. Left, the moon’s far side, and the landing site of China’s Chang’e 4, the only spacecraft to have visited it so far, in January 2019. The color scale depicts the altitude of the lunar surface. Notice Chang’e 4 is sitting inside a huge crater. Image via Nature.

On January 3, 2019, a Chinese spacecraft called Chang’e 4 became the first-ever mission to land on the moon’s far side. It set down in a giant impact feature on the moon, called the South Pole-Aitken Basin, within a smaller and newer impact crater, called Von Kármán. Last week (May 15, 2019), Chinese scientists published early scientific results from the Chang’e 4 mission, after collecting the first in situ data from the crater floor. These scientists report the detection of materials near Chang’e 4 landing site that they said “differ markedly” from most samples from the moon’s surface. They said they believe it’s possible this material came from deeper within the moon, from the moon’s mantle, which is known to be a geologically distinct layer from the moon’s crust and core. The detection of mantle material on the moon’s far side was a major goal of the Chang’e 4 mission. The work – which sheds light on how the moon evolved – was published on May 15, 2019 in the peer-reviewed journal Nature.

Earth - Moon - Layers - Layers - Moon

Like Earth, the moon has layers. There are 3 distinct layers of the moon namely the crust, the mantle and core. Image via PlanetFacts.

In a way similar to other worlds in the inner solar system, the moon is thought to have gone through a phase – not long after its formation – when an ocean of magma or molten rock covered its surface. A statement from the...
(Excerpt) Read more at: earthsky.org
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