Near the end of last year… or rather 2020… which was only last year, right? Anyway, near the end of 2020, China’s Chang’e-5 mission returned sampled rocks from the lunar surface to Earth. About two kilograms of material was collected, and an initial analysis was presented at Europlanet Science Congress 2021 by graduate student Yuqi Qian.
Those initial results show that nearly 90% of the recovered sample was from the landing site in the Northern Oceanus Procellarum and were mare basalts, those darker grey areas we see on the Moon as opposed to the lighter grey highland material. However, the remaining ten percent of the sample is considered “exotic” because the fragments seem to come from either other places on the Moon or space rocks or both.
Per the press release: The team has modeled the potential contributions from specific craters to the south and southeast (Aristarchus, Kepler, and Copernicus), northwest (Harding), and northeast (Harpalus). Qian’s findings show that Harpalus is a significant contributor of many exotic fragments among Chang’e-5’s sample haul… Some fragments may have been thrown into [the] Chang’e-5 landing area from nearly 1,300 kilometers away.
We’re definitely looking forward to more results from this sample.
EPSC press release
“The Exotic Materials at the Chang’e-5 Landing Site,” Yuqi Qian et al., 2021 September 13-24, European Planetary Science Congress 2021