The find makes China the third country to discover a new mineral on the Moon, and the country says it’s analyzed the soil for rare helium-3.
China has discovered a crystal from the Moon made of a previously unknown mineral, while also confirming that the lunar surface contains a key ingredient for nuclear fusion, a potential form of effectively limitless power that harnesses the same forces that fuel the Sun and other stars.
The crystal is part of a batch of lunar samples collected by China’s Chang’e-5 mission, which landed on the Moon in 2020, loaded up with about four pounds of rocks, and delivered them to Earth days later. After carefully sifting through the samples—which are the first Moon rocks returned to Earth since 1976—scientists at the Beijing Research Institute of Uranium Geology spotted a single crystal particle, with a diameter smaller than the width of a human hair.
The crystal is made of the novel mineral Changesite—(Y), named after the Chinese Moon goddess, Chang’e, that also inspired China’s series of lunar missions. It was confirmed as a new mineral on Friday by the Commission on New Minerals, Nomenclature and Classification (CNMNC) of the International Mineralogical Association (IMA), according to the Chinese state-run publication Global Times.
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