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New samples confirm the presence of lava on the surface of the moon two billion years ago

New samples confirm the presence of lava on the surface of the moon two billion years ago

– Ovigomy / Shutterstock.com

Last December, the Chinese lunar lander Chang’e 5 returned to Earth with the first lunar rocks and dust since 1976. Recent analyzes have shown that these were the smallest ever taken from our natural satellite, thus redefining the geological chronology its own.

The first since 1976

Featured in the magazine ScienceThis new research is among the first to be published for the mission Chang’e 5, which has been completed China 3rd country to report lunar samples tr, distance United State and theSoviet Union. Rocks collected during missions Apollo And color The 1960s were at least three billion years old, which indicates geologists that moon It has not seen any volcanic activity since then.

However, recently taken distant images of the lunar surface have indicated the presence of much smaller rocks. the mission Chang’e 5Designed to collect rocks from some recent volcanic surfaces moonIt was the perfect opportunity to confirm these suspicions.

An international team of scientists used a large mass spectrometer to study the chemistry of these new lunar samples, analyze the decay of the radioactive elements they contain, and determine their age at about two billion years.

Photo taken by Chang’e 5 during its lunar landing – © China National Space Agency, Lunar Exploration and Aerospace Engineering Center

« After analyzing the chemistry of lunar rocks collected as part of the recent Chinese mission, we determined that the new samples are about two billion years old, making them the youngest igneous rocks identified on the Moon to date. explains the professor Alexander Namshin, researcher inCurtin University, employment Australia, and lead author of the study.

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important effects

These findings not only disrupt the chronology of recent volcanic activity from our natural satellite, but also confirm the effectiveness of remote observation techniques, which bode well for studying other planets.

« They confirm what experts have long predicted based on remotely acquired images of the moon and raise more questions about the existence of these tiny basalts. explains the professor Gretchen Benedix, co-author of the study. ” The next step will be to identify a mechanism that explains how this relatively recent warming of the Moon could have helped form basaltic magmas with temperatures above 1,000 degrees Celsius, which would eventually help improve dating the Moon’s age. the system. »

As part of its ambitious space programme, China Plan other lunar missions, including missions Chang’e 6, 7 and 8All are expected to be launched in this decade. This you will explore moon In search of resources and areas to consider establishing a potential lunar science base.