Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

A sixth new lunar mineral discovered has been named “Chang’esite-(Y)” – identified from the Moon samples brought back to Earth by China’s Chang’e-5 mission in 2020.

Scientists at the Beijing Research Institute of Uranium Geology announced that they found the new mineral within the 1,731 grams of lunar samples returned to Earth.

“This family is divided into two groups – one is Whitlockite, which is found on Earth. The Chang’esite is called the Brianite subgroup, and it is a typical extraterrestrial mineral, which only appears in the Moon and meteorites,” said Li Ting, a research expert for lunar samples of the Beijing Research Institute of Uranium Geology.

Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

“Its elemental composition and content are different from those of known minerals in this group. It is the first new lunar mineral discovered by the Chinese, and it is a new phosphate mineral in mineralogy,” Li told China Central Television (CCTV), formed as column-shaped crystal, found in lunar basalt grains.

Changesite is ultra-tiny with a size no more than 10 microns. 

Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Other study findings

How was Changesite catalogued as a new mineral?

According to Li: “Matter has two basic properties: one is chemical composition and the other is crystal structure. The chemical composition refers to what elements it is composed of, and the crystal structure refers to how these elements are arranged. Each mineral corresponds to a set of rules. If a position is occupied by a different element, or the elements are arranged in a different way, it is a new mineral.”

In addition to the new mineral Changesite, CCTV reports that other significant scientific research reveals in studying the samples include the content and extraction conditions of Helium-3, as well as nanophase iron particles in lunar soil.

“This provides fundamental scientific data for lunar resource evaluation and exploration,” reports CCTV.

Photo taking during Chang’e-5 surface sampling.
Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Officially approved

The China National Space Administration (CNSA) and the China Atomic Energy Authority (CAEA) jointly announced the new lunar mineral finding in Beijing.

“This ‘Chang’esite-(Y)’ is the first new mineral discovered on the moon by China, and the sixth by mankind. The new finding makes China the third country in the world to have discovered a new mineral on the Moon,” said Dong Baotong, Vice Chairman of CAEA.

Chang’e-5 return capsule holding lunar specimens.
Credit: National Astronomical Observatories, CAS

The Chang’esite-(Y) has been officially approved as a new mineral by the Commission on New Minerals, Nomenclature and Classification of the International Mineralogical Association, reports CCTV.

CNSA has distributed four batches of 152 lunar samples totaling 53,625.7 milligrams. The fifth batch of samples from the Moon is under review.

China’s Chang’e-5 lunar mission consisted of an orbiter, a lander, an ascender, and a returner. Launched on Nov. 24, 2020, the return capsule parachuted into north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region on Dec. 17, 2020 with its load of lunar samples, primarily rocks and soil from the Moon’s surface.

To view a video on the finding, go to:

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