(ORDO NEWS) — China‘s Yutu-2 mission has made another exciting discovery on the far side of the moon. Gleaming among the dry gray dust, the rover’s panoramic camera pulled out two small spheres of translucent glass.
Such balls can record information about the Moon‘s history, including the composition of its mantle and impact events. Yutu-2 was unable to obtain compositional data, but they may become important targets for future research.
Glass is not uncommon on the Moon . The material is formed when the silicate material is exposed to high temperature and both ingredients are available on the Moon.
There was extensive volcanism in the lunar past, leading to the formation of volcanic glass; and impacts from smaller objects such as meteorites also cause intense heat, resulting in glass formation.
According to a team of scientists led by planetary geologist Zhiyong Xiao of Sun Yat-sen University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the latter may be behind the balls observed by Yutu-2.
These globules have been found near fresh craters, which may indicate that they were formed during meteorite impacts, although it is possible that they were already present, buried below the surface, and were simply ejected to the surface by meteor impacts.
However, the team thinks the most likely explanation is that they formed from a volcanic glass called anorthosite, which melted again on impact, becoming translucent, round balls.
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