A Chinese lunar rover discovered an apparent impossibility on the surface of the moon, prompting a major mission change.
China’s Yutu-2 rover, part of the Chang’e-4 lunar mission, made the discovery sometime after July 25.
According to Space.com, the gel-like substance was discovered in a crater on the far side of the moon. It came as a major surprise because the lunar surface is often thought of as a bleak, dust-filled landscape.
Though it’s unclear exactly what the substance is, scientists are redirecting the rover to investigate.
The area where the gel was found is a part of the moon covered in small impact craters.
Observers preparing to shut the rover down to protect it from the sun’s scorching temperatures and radiation first spotted the substance in an image taken by the lunar robot.
The color and sheen of the gel caused immediate excitement.
After consulting with lunar scientists, Yutu-2’s scheduled mission to head in another direction was changed, and remote drivers inched closer to the crater.
Using the robot’s highly advanced cameras, scientists scanned the gel and the crater containing it. Mission scientists have remained tight-lipped about any information they have discovered.
Although some scientists speculate the material may just be melt glass created by a violent impact event, the discovery seems to indicate that the space race is far from over.
The Chinese previously accomplished an impressive first when they pulled off a soft landing on the far side of the moon.
Video of the Yutu-2 rover exiting its deployment was cause for excitement and national pride in China.
With an entire universe of discoveries just waiting to be found, America can’t afford to let the Chinese take the lead in the 21st-century reboot of the Cold War space race.
Though President Donald Trump is responsible for introducing the United States’ Space Force, America still has a ways to go before we are making accomplishments similar to what NASA’s Apollo program did.
If we hope to remain a competitor in the new space race, China is now the country to beat.
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