China’s Lunar Rover has discovered a strange object at the Moon’s Far Side and will now continue to study it.
The cube-shaped object was referred to by the website of the nation’s space agency as a “mystery house”, although experts think it may be a boulder excavated from a meteorite.
The Yutu 2 rover, which almost three years ago arrived with the first spacecraft to ever land on the dark side of the moon, took pictures of the object on the horizon while working its way across the Von Kármán crater.
This side of our lunar satellite is never visible from Earth and, prior to the Chang’e-4 mission, no space probe had ever reached that part of the surface because of communication difficulties.
It’s strange: China’s lunar rover has discovered a mysterious object far from the moon. (shown at the centre of this image, above the horizon). The rover is currently on its journey to explore it further
Theorie: The cube-shaped object was referred to by the website of the country’s national space agency as a “mystery house”, although experts think it may be a boulder that has been excavated from a meteorite.
The solar-powered Yutu 2 has been traversing the 115-mile-wide (186km) Von Kármán crater ever since it landed on the moon attached to the Chang’e-4 spacecraft on January 3, 2019.
It snapped photos of an unknown object last month, about 260 feet (80m) to the north. The images were taken by Our Space, which is a channel for outreach in Chinese language science and technology affiliated to China National Space Administration.
It referred to the object as a ‘mystery hut’ (神秘小屋/shenmi xiaowu), although this is a placeholder name rather than an accurate description of what it is thought to be.
Nevertheless, Chinese scientists are intrigued about the object and Yutu 2 is now set to spend the next 2-3 lunar days – the equivalent of 2-3 Earth months – travelling over to it to get a closer look.
Chang’e 4 was China’s fourth lunar mission and its second to send an rover.
The Chang’e 1 and 2 missions were orbiters, while Chang’e 3 landed on the near side of the moon with the first Yutu rover.
Beijing launched Chang’e-5 last November with the goal of returning first samples from the moon to Earth within 40 years.
It achieved that feat a month later and initial analysis, revealed in October this year, found that the rocks date back 2 billion years.
Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences’ research suggests that the moon may have been more volcanically active than previously thought.
According to researchers, the samples are 1 billion years older than the ones previously discovered on the lunar surface.
Chinese scientists are intrigued about the object (pictured) and Yutu 2 is now set to spend the next 2-3 lunar days – the equivalent of 2-3 Earth months – travelling to it to get a closer look
The Yutu 2 rover (pictured), which almost three years ago arrived with the first spacecraft to land on the dark side of the moon, saw the object while travelling across the Von Kármán crater
Yutu 2 has now reached three years since its discovery of the’mystery house’ on moon 36.
In February it captured images of the far side of the moon that showed an elongated ‘milestone’ rock on the lunar surface.
After waking up from 14 days of darkness during the lunar night, the moon rover saw the structure protruding from the ground.
Scientists think the strange rock formed from rocks that were blown off the surface by multiple impacts until it became a pointy structure.
Although it receives as much light from the far side as the near side of the moon (commonly called the dark side), the Far Side is always away from Earth.
This is because the moon is tidally locked to Earth, rotating at the same rate that it orbits our planet, so the far side – or the ‘dark side’ – is never visible from our planet.
China’s moon exploration program has ambitious goals.
In 2023 or 2024 it is expected to launch Chang’e-6, the first mission to explore the moon’s south pole, while Chang’e-7 will study the land surface, composition and space environment in an overall mission, according to the Chinese space authority.
China is also working to create a lunar base by 3D printing technology.
Chang’e-8 is likely to lay the foundations for such a project as it tries to verify the technology.
CNSA also plans to build an Earth-orbiting station for Chinese astronauts, where they can conduct experiments similar to those conducted at the International Space Station.
In the summer 2020, the agency sent a mission to Mars and in May 2021, landed a rover there.