From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Chang'e 5 Mission
Mains level : NA
The Europlanet Society has released details from the samples brought back by China’s Chang’e-5 Lunar Mission in December 2020.
Chang’e-5 Lunar Mission
- The Chang’e-5 lunar mission delivered to Earth nearly 2 kg of rocky fragments and dust from the Moon.
- It had landed on an area of the Moon (the ‘far side’) not sampled by the American or Soviet missions nearly 50 years ago.
- It thus retrieved fragments of the youngest lunar rocks ever brought back for analysis in laboratories on Earth.
- The rocks are also different from those returned decades ago.
- 90% of the materials collected by Chang’e-5 likely derive from the landing site and its immediate surroundings, which are of a type termed ‘mare basalts’.
- These volcanic rocks are visible to us as the darker grey areas that spilled over much of the nearside of the Moon as ancient eruptions of lava.
- Yet 10% percent of the fragments have distinctly different, ‘exotic’ chemical compositions.
What are the exotic compositions?
- The distinct 10% fragments may preserve records of other parts of the lunar surface as well as hints of the types of space rocks that have impacted the Moon’s surface.
- Researchers have looked at the potential sources of beads of rapidly cooled glassy material.
- They have traced these glassy droplets to extinct volcanic vents known as ‘Rima Mairan’ and ‘Rima Sharp’.
- These fragments could give insights into past episodes of energetic, fountain-like volcanic activity on the Moon.