Changesite-(Y) is a phosphate mineral found in lunar basalts.
China has become only the third country to discover a new mineral on the moon after its scientists said on Friday that they had found one. At a press conference, Dong Baotong, vice chairman of the China Atomic Energy Authority, announced the name of the new mineral as Changesite-(Y). It was found in rock and dust samples retrieved from the moon by China’s Chang’e-5 mission.
The mission was launched in 2020 and was China’s first to return a lunar sample. US and Russia are the other two countries to have done so till date. It is the sixth new mineral humans have discovered on the moon.
Wang Xuejun, a party official with China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), informed that a research team from the Beijing Research Institute of Uranium Geology carefully separated a single crystalline particle of the material from more than 140,000 lunar particles using hi-tech processes, including X-ray diffraction.
The particle was about 10 microns in diameter, or about one-tenth of a human hair, Wang told reporters. Changesite-(Y) is a phosphate mineral found in lunar basalts. The Commission on New Minerals, Nomenclature and Classification of the International Mineralogical Association has confirmed it as a new mineral.
Phosphate is the natural source of phosphorous and is also found on Earth. It is an element that provides a major chunk of the nutrients plants need for their growth. While excess of it is damaging to the human body, it would play a key role in helping space faring heroes farm on the lunar surface.
The CNNC’s Wang said the discovery of Changesite-(Y) was a breakthrough in mineralogy research and will help understand the history and evolution of the moon, besides helping with deep space exploration.-(WION)