Volcanic mountains

China says moon rocks offer new clues to lunar volcanic activity


    Li Xianhua speaks near a screen showing volcano activities on the moon during a press briefing on the Chang’e 5 lunar mission, at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.

BEIJING >> Moon rocks brought back to Earth by a Chinese robotic spacecraft last year have provided new insights into ancient lunar volcanic activity, a researcher said Tuesday.

Li Xianhua said an analysis of the samples revealed new information about the moon’s chemical composition and how heat affected its development.

Li said the samples indicate that volcanic activity was still occurring on the moon just 2 billion years ago, compared to previous estimates that such activity stopped between 2.8 billion years ago. and 3 billion years.

Volcanic activity is a very important thing on the moon. They show the vitality inside the moon and represent the recycling of energy and matter inside the moon,” Li told reporters.

In December, China brought back the first moon rocks from missions by the United States and the former Soviet Union in the 1970s.

On Saturday, China launched a new crew of three to its space station, another step in a space program that has progressed rapidly in recent years.

China became only the third country after the former Soviet Union and the United States to send a single person into space in 2003 and now ranks among the top space powers.

Along with its crewed program, it expanded its work on robotic exploration, retrieving the lunar samples and landing a rover on the unexplored far side of the moon. He also placed the Tianwen-1 space probe on Mars, whose accompanying Zhurong rover explored evidence of life on the Red Planet.

China also plans to collect soil from an asteroid and bring back additional lunar samples. The country also hopes to land people on the moon and eventually build a science base there. A top-secret space plane is also said to be in development.

China’s military-run space program has also sparked controversy. China’s Foreign Ministry on Monday dismissed a report that China tested a hypersonic missile two months ago. A ministry spokesperson said it was simply testing whether a new spacecraft could be reused.