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The first rover on the far side of the moon may have discovered the first samples from the moon's mantle, released from the lunar interior by a giant, ancient cosmic impact, a new study finds.
These findings suggest the rover, China's Yutu-2, may one day help solve the mystery of how the moon formed and evolved.
Research - System - Bodies - Moon - Ocean
Previous research suggested that like the solar system's other inner rocky bodies, the moon was covered with an ocean of magma up to hundreds of miles deep when it was newly formed and still hot from its creation. As this magma ocean cooled and solidified, denser minerals rich in iron and magnesium, such as olivine, would have crystallized at its base, while lighter minerals rich in silicon and aluminum, such as plagioclase, would have floated to the surface, potentially explaining why large portions of the moon's crust are now 98 percent plagioclase.
Related: China On the Moon! A History of Chinese Lunar Missions in Pictures
Model - Moon - Formation - Evolution - Lunar
However, this prevailing model of the moon's formation and evolution is hotly debated. This is because it remains uncertain whether the lunar magma ocean had the right mix of chemical and physical features for its minerals to separate as the model suggests they did.
Instead of launching probes to drill into the moon to retrieve lunar mantle samples, scientists have long suggested letting cosmic impacts on the moon do the dirty work of digging, the study's researchers said. For...
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