Pretty, Glassy Spheres From The Moon By China’s Yutu-2 Rover

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On the far side of the Moon, China’s Yutu-2 expedition has uncovered yet another remarkable finding. The rover’s panoramic camera spotted two little complete orbs of clear glass glistening among the dry, gray dust. As it turns out, glass isn’t rare on the Moon. When silicate material is heated to a high temperature, the substance develops, and both of these constituents are easily accessible on the Moon.

There was widespread volcanism in the lunar past, which resulted in the development of volcanic glass, and collisions from smaller objects, like meteorites, also resulted in the formation of glass. According to a team of scientists headed by planetary scientist Zhiyong Xiao of Sun Yat-sen University as well as the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the latter might be the cause of the spherules seen by Yutu-2.

During an impact on Earth, such small glass spherules are formed, releasing such tremendous energy that the crust melts and shoots into the atmosphere. The molten substance cools and condenses into tiny glass beads. The spherules of Yutu-2 are substantially bigger, measuring 15 to 25 millimeters wide. Glass balls up to 40 millimeters wide were found from the Moon’s near side throughout the Apollo 16 mission, but that doesn’t make them unusual.

However, there are some distinctions between the two findings. The far side spherules appear to be transparent or semi-transparent and have a vitreous sheen, according to Xiao and his colleagues. They discovered four other spherules with a similar sheen, but their translucency could not be verified, in addition to the two that appear to be transparent.

The most plausible explanation, according to the experts, is that they originated from anorthosite, a volcanic glass that melted on contact and reformed as transparent spherical globs.

The findings were published in the Science Bulletin.

William Reid
A science writer through and through, William Reid’s first starting working on offline local newspapers. An obsessive fascination with all things science/health blossomed from a hobby into a career. Before hopping over to Optic Flux, William worked as a freelancer for many online tech publications including ScienceWorld, JoyStiq and Digg. William serves as our lead science and health reporter.