China founds a rare lunar crystal and nuclear power source on near side of moon
In China, researchers have discovered a new type of crystal nestled among the volcanic debris on the near side of the moon. They also found a potential fuel source that could help revolutionize the making of clean and efficient energy on Earth.
In China, researchers have discovered a new type of crystal nestled among the volcanic debris on the near side of the moon and a potential fuel source that could help revolutionize the making of clean and efficient energy on Earth.
The tiny and transparent crystal is named Changesite-(Y), after the Chinese moon goddess Chang'e is a hundred years old and is as wide as human hair. In early September, researchers with the International Mineralogical Association said that the tiny moon crystal has a never-before-seen composition and is related to distinct minerals found only on the moon or in meteors.
A new mineral, Changesite-(Y), was discovered from the moon samples retrieved by #China's Chang'e-5 probe, making China the third country to discover a new mineral on moon, China Atomic Energy Authority said on Friday. pic.twitter.com/gieIWN8SMg— People's Daily, China (@PDChina) September 9, 2022
- Researchers gathered the crystal among roughly 4 pounds (1.8 kilograms) of lunar rocks in 2020 during China's Chang'e-5 mission.
- These rocks were the initial lunar samples to be taken to Earth in 1976, and the first lunar samples ever collected by China.
- The Changesite-(Y) crystal's discovery signifies the sixth new mineral to be identified on the moon, and the first identified by China; the five previous discoveries were made by either the United States or Russia.
- However, the teeny crystal was not the only remarkable discovery in the Chang'e-5 moon rock haul.
- Among the roughly 140,000 lunar particles analyzed, scientists also found traces of helium-3, a version of the element helium that is rare on Earth but is assumed to be abundant on the moon.
What is the importance of Helium?
For years, scientists have been interested in helium-3 as a potential source of fuel for nuclear fusion. Helium-3 is a primarily promising fuel source for fusion as it produces significantly less radiation and nuclear waste than other elements. Helium-3 is expected to be much more abundant on the moon, where it has been deposited directly onto the lunar soil for billions of years by the solar wind.
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