China discovers new mineral in moon for first time: CNSA
Scientists at the Beijing Research Institute of Uranium Geology found a new mineral and named it "Changesite", after analyzing tiny particles from lunar samples, according to the conference jointly held by the China National Space Administration (CNSA) and China Atomic Energy Authority on Friday in Beijing.
Changesite is the sixth new mineral discovered in the moon, which ranks China as the third country on the world discovering new moon minerals. It was identified from the 1,731 grams of lunar samples carried back to Earth by the Chang'e-5 returner in 2020, the only ones over the past 44 years.
"This family is divided into two groups, one is Whitlockite, which is found on Earth. The Changesite is called the Brianite subgroup, and it is a typical extraterrestrial mineral, which only appears in the moon and meteorites. Its elemental composition and content are different from those of known minerals in this group. It is the first new lunar mineral discovered by the Chinese, and it is a new phosphate mineral in mineralogy," said Li Ting, a research expert for lunar samples of the Beijing Research Institute of Uranium Geology.
Changesite is very small with a size no more than 10 microns. Thus, it is impossible to see with the naked eye. Only after zooming in with professional equipment, can the scientists see its outline.
When asked how Changesite was clarified as a new mineral, Li said, "Matter has two basic properties: one is chemical composition and the other is crystal structure. The chemical composition refers to what elements it is composed of, and the crystal structure refers to how these elements are arranged. Each mineral corresponds to a set of rules. If a position is occupied by a different element, or the elements are arranged in a different way, it is a new mineral."
The new mineral, Changesite, is named after the charming lady Chang'e who legendarily lives in the moon with a cute rabbit in traditional Chinese mythology. Scientists think it could be a good gift to Chinese people when the Mid-Autumn Festival is coming soon, as well as to all human beings, especially the younger generation, to inspire their curiosity and passion for scientific research and astronomical adventures.
The Chang'e-5 probe, comprising an orbiter, a lander, an ascender, and a returner, was launched on Nov. 24, 2020. The return capsule landed in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region on Dec. 17, 2020, retrieving a total of 1,731 grams of lunar samples, mainly rocks and soil from the moon's surface.
In addition to the new mineral Changesite, other significant scientific research achievements including the content and extraction conditions of helium-3, and the nanophase iron particles in lunar soil are also based on these samples.