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China says it discovered a new moon mineral

Chinese President Xi Jinping waves to deputies at the 13th National People's Congress in Beijing on Tuesday, March 20, 2018. (Lan Hongguang/Xinhua/Sipa USA/TNS)
September 12, 2022

Chinese Communist Party officials claimed last week that Chinese scientists have discovered a new mineral on the moon. If true, it would make China the third country to discover a lunar mineral. 

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The South China Morning Post reported Friday that the mineral, dubbed Changesite-(Y), was discovered in moon material samples obtained by China’s Chang’e-5 mission in 2020.  

Wang Xuejun, an official with the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), said a team of researchers from the Beijing Research Institute of Uranium Geology used X-ray diffraction and other hi-tech processes to isolate a single crystalline particle from moon rocks and dust. 

“It provides fundamental scientific data for future assessment of helium-3 in lunar samples and their exploration,” he said.

Wang said the particle is roughly one-tenth the size of a human hair and is the sixth new mineral discovered on the moon. 

“[The discovery] provides more basic scientific data for the evaluation and development of lunar resources and has deepened mankind’s knowledge of the moon and the solar system,” said Dong Baotong, vice-chairman of the China Atomic Energy Authority. “China has also become the third country to retrieve lunar samples and discover new lunar minerals after the US and Russia.”

The new moon mineral was announced before China’s moon festival, which occurs on the 15th day of the eighth month in the lunar calendar. 

Last year, senior Chinese lunar program designer and engineer Ye Peijian told Chinese state-run tv that China could land astronauts on the moon by 2030. 

“I personally think that as long as the technological research for manned moon landing continues, and as long as the country is determined, a Chinese crewed moon landing is entirely possible by 2030,” Ye said. 

China successfully unfurled the first cloth Chinese national flag on the moon during the country’s Chang’e 5 lunar mission, its state-run media announced in December 2020.