Lunar soil samples returned by a Chinese mission contain strange types of igneous rocks, associated with material ejected from time immemorial. The strange cracks were found in samples of “lunar regolith,” which is dust and dirt, collected by the Chang’e 5 mission in The northern part of the Moon’s Oceanus Procellarum (ocean of storms).
According to “Space”, Zeng Xiaojia, Li Xiongyao and Liu Jianzhong of the Institute of Geochemistry of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (IGCAS) found the shocks among 3,000 samples and 3.82 pounds (1.73 kilograms) of lunar regolith returned to Earth by the mission.
The researchers said the discovery could provide vital information about the diversity of rocks across the lunar surface and the processes that create regolith. The findings also point to a hitherto unknown diversity of magma throughout the lunar crust.
The seven strange lumps identified by the team include a high-titanium “glass shard,” made up of large crystals known as phenoxy crystals embedded in a glassy block known to form here on Earth through volcanic activity.
Also found in the lunar regolith samples are olivine-pyroxenite, a highly impacted igneous rock called magnesite anorthosite, and a glassy lava bead.
The team also compared the Chang’e 5 regolith samples with lunar material returned to Earth by NASA’s Apollo missions between 1969 and 1972, and the researchers found three strange igneous impacts in the Chang’e 5 regolith that show unusual morphological and compositional features.
The high-titanium fraction contains minerals unique to lunar basalts, which means that it likely represents a previously unknown form of this type of igneous rock.
Magnesite anorthosite is a type of rock not found in the Apollo samples, and its presence in the Chang’e 5 cluster may indicate that magnesite anorthosite is an important component of the lunar crust on the Earth-facing side of the moon.
The new study marks the first time that strange igneous rock types have been found in samples from this relatively young, two-billion-year-old basalt region of the Moon.
The discovery of strange volcanic shells in the samples indicates that there are still unknown geological regions on the moon, which may affect the planning of future lunar missions.