On Oct 19, scientists from the Institute of Geology and Geophysics and the National Astronomical Observatories, which are both part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, released groundbreaking findings on the evolution of the moon based on studies of the lunar samples brought back by the Chang’e 5 mission. The results were published in the journal Nature.
Using dating techniques, researchers analyzed more than 50 uranium-rich minerals in the basaltic rock samples and determined they were over 2 billion years old, indicating that lunar volcanism was still occurring about 800 million years later than previously thought.
The study also showed that the high content of heat-producing elements in the samples — potassium, rare earths and phosphorus — did not originate in the moon’s mantle where lava would ordinarily have formed, but came from the remnants of crystallized magma. This finding ruled out the hypothesis that the heat responsible for the initial rock melt at the Chang’e 5 landing site was generated by radioactive heat-generating elements.