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China's Chang'e 4 Mission Discovers New 'Secrets' from Far Side of the Moon

16 May 2019, 06:26 UTC
China's Chang'e 4 Mission Discovers New 'Secrets' from Far Side of the Moon
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A lunar lander named for the Chinese goddess of the moon may have lessened the mystery of the far side of the moon. The fourth probe of Chang'E (CE-4) was the first mission to land on the far side of the moon, and it has collected new evidence from the largest crater in the solar system, clarifying how the moon may have evolved. The results were published on May 16, 2019, in Nature.A theory emerged in the 1970s that in the moon's infancy, an ocean made of magma covered its surface. As the molten ocean began to calm and cool, lighter minerals floated to the top, while heavier components sank. The top crusted over in a sheet of mare basalt, encasing a mantle of dense minerals, such as olivine and pyroxene.As asteroids and space junk crashed into the surface of the moon, they cracked through the crust and kicked up pieces of the lunar mantel."Understanding the composition of the lunar mantel is critical for testing whether a magma ocean ever existed, as postulated," said corresponding author LI Chunlai, a professor of the National Astronomical Observatories of Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC). "It also helps advance our understanding of the thermal ...

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