Launched as a part of China’s Chang’e 4 mission, Yutu is a robotic lunar probe that roves around the Moon. The Chinese moon rover recently spotted something bizarre, just three days into its two-week lunar day stint right before the science team at the Beijing Aerospace Control Centre were preparing to power it down for a “midday nap”.
On July 28, Yutu-2 found a shiny unknown substance that the Chinese space agency has dubbed as a “gel with a mysterious lustre” in the far side of the Moon. Albeit the Chinese scientists have not released any pictures of the site nor have they revealed what it might be, they speculate that the material is glass that may have formed in the heat of the impact that the crater left.
Reportedly, a team member came across the unusual crater while checking out a panorama imaged by Yutu. The researchers hence kept the rover awake and rolled it over the crater to examine it better, using its Visible and Near-Infrared Spectrometer (VNIS), which specializes in studying the light reflected off surfaces to determine their chemical composition.
Thus, they discovered a glistening substance that is being reported to be different from the surrounding regolith in shape, colour and texture, as per the rover’s drive diary. Given that the Moon’s surface is naturally dry, the rover is likely to have stumbled upon a hardened molten material rather than a slimy, jelly-like substance.
The discovery was made during lunar day 8th which started on July 25. Yutu was being powered down before so as to keep its delicate machinery away of the Sun’s heat. The Chinese lunar probe went back to sleep on August 7 for the fortnight duration of lunar night, since it runs on solar power. It woke up again on August 25 for the next lunar day and continues its journey towards the west in search of new discoveries.