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Space & Astronomy

Mystery Moon 'gel' revealed in new photograph

October 23, 2019 | Comment icon 12 comments

A high contrast image of the mystery substance. Image Credit: CNSA/CLEP/NASA/GSFC/Dan Moriarty
China has published a new image showing the strange substance found by Yutu-2 on the dark side of the Moon.
Situated within the 2,500km-wide South Pole-Aitken basin, the rover, which landed on the Moon as part of China's groundbreaking Chang'e 4 mission back in January, first noticed the anomalous gel after spotting a shining object while trundling across the lunar surface.

Exhibiting a shape and color that stands out against the surrounding regolith, the gel has been described as having "a mysterious luster" and is situated right in the middle of an impact crater.

Now in a renewed effort to get to the bottom of the mystery, China's space agency has released a new photograph showing the anomalous substance in more detail.

One possible explanation is that the substance could be a type of dark glass that forms during an asteroid impact - the same glass previously seen by the Apollo 17 astronauts back in 1972.
"The shape of the fragments appears fairly similar to other materials in the area," said NASA Postdoctoral Program fellow Dan Moriarty who has conducted a detailed analysis of the image.

"What this tells us is that this material has a similar history as the surrounding material. It was broken up and fractured by impacts on the lunar surface, just like the surrounding soil. "

"It appears to have brighter material embedded within the larger, darker regions, although there is a chance that is light glinting off a smooth surface."

If China's rover can get an even closer look at the substance when it wakes up from its next two-week lunar night cycle, it may be possible to solve this mystery once and for all.

Source: Space.com | Comments (12)

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #3 Posted by Hammerclaw 3 years ago
Gel? Must be some sort of translation error.
Comment icon #4 Posted by freetoroam 3 years ago
Where are they getting gel from?  Not from this and it is in the article   
Comment icon #5 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 3 years ago
No, the problem is that most people don't understand what, scientifically a gel is. From actually understanding what constitutes a gel.   Most people think that a gel is a thick liquid, in fact it is a mostly liquid substance that can act like a solid. HERE is what a gel actually is. Note this: That is pretty much what you are quoting... so THAT is where they are getting gel from.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Hammerclaw 3 years ago
Seems a similar sort of misperception to Schiaparelli's "Canali" being misinterpreted as canals. In any event, I rather doubt a Western scientist would have described what is in that image as a "gel".
Comment icon #7 Posted by freetoroam 3 years ago
The possibility does not say gel-like,  it says dark glass. Although gel can turn to glass,  they do not know if this dark glass was a gel.  Here  It seems glass material would have been better to use as opposed to gel. But as yet,  they do not know.
Comment icon #8 Posted by freetoroam 3 years ago
If it is like the samples found by Apollo 17,  I do not see gel mention here: It would make sense if what has just been found,  is like what was found by Apollo 17.
Comment icon #9 Posted by quiXilver 3 years ago
well... glass is not a solid. but then technically, depending on level of magnification and myopia, everything solid is vibration so...
Comment icon #10 Posted by Almighty Evan 3 years ago
I remember for a long time being told glass is a "liquid" and "flows".  Alas, https://io9.gizmodo.com/the-glass-is-a-liquid-myth-has-finally-been-destroyed-496190894
Comment icon #11 Posted by opaquebh 3 years ago
Could be pockets of iron from when the asteroid hit, melting the iron and then have it solidifying in a melted form? Thus appearing in a
Comment icon #12 Posted by tortugabob 3 years ago
High stress impact glass. Nothing to see here people. Move along.

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