While surveying a crater, something curious was suddenly spotted by a scientists of the China’s Chang’e-4 lunar rover mission.
To the team surprise, the lunar rover had just discovered an unusually colored “gel-like” substance with a “mysterious lustre” on the far side of the Moon.
Chang’e-4’s rover, Yutu-2, has been slowly pottering around the lesser-known side of the Moon since the mission’s historic landing back in January. In nine months, the rover has covered a total of 271 meters (890 feet), sending back unprecedented views from the far side of the Moon.
On July 28, three days after the start of lunar day 8 (lunar days last 29 Earth days, so Yutu-2 is experiencing two weeks of “day” and two weeks of “night”), Yutu-2 was about to be powered down for a “midday nap” to avoid overheating, as when the Sun is directly overhead, Moon surface temperatures can reach more than 100°C (212°F).
However, while surveying a panoramic of the crater the rover had just been exploring, something curious caught mission member Yu Tianyi’s eye. It was enough to postpone Yutu’s nap, and even postpone existing plans to travel west, instead rolling it back to the crater for a second look.
There, to the team’s surprise, they spotted what they have described as a gel with a mysterious lustre and a shape and color significantly different from the surrounding soil.
So What Is This Anomalous Gel-Like Substance?
Scientists not involved in the project suggest the material could be glass, formed by meteorites hitting the surface of the Moon with such force it melts the Moon rock.
While undertaking this new and exciting detour, Yutu-2 traveled 1.96 meters (6.4 feet), breaking its own record for number of steps taken in a day: three!
Don’t laugh, that is the fastest it’s ever moved, and leaves its predecessor, Yutu, in the dust at a paltry total of 114 meters (374 feet) after it short-circuited and became immobile just two months into its mission.
Yutu means Jade Rabbit and was actually the pet of the moon goddess Chang’e in Chinese mythology. On January 3, 2019, Chang’e-4 completed the first-ever soft landing on the far side of the Moon, landing in the Von Kármán Crater in the southern hemisphere.
Meanwhile, both Chang’e-4 and Yutu-2 have just woken up for lunar day 9, and during this time Yutu-2 will continue west to hopefully reveal more of the mysterious side of the Moon’s secrets.