China’s Yutu-2 rover, launched as part of the Chang’e 4 mission, is the first ever robot to explore the far side of the moon. Since landing in January, it’s snapped gorgeous views of the lunar surface and made one unexpected discovery. Now, its made another surprising find: hidden in a crater, Yutu-2 has discovered an unusual substance with a “gel-like” appearance.
According to a report by Space.com, the rover’s surprise discovery was made during exploration activities on lunar day 8, which began on July 25. Each lunar day lasts for two Earth weeks and during this time the solar-powered rover carries out scientific observations, measuring radiation and surveying its surrounds.
Three days into day 8, a member of the Chang’e 4 team was reviewing images taken during by the rover and noticed a strangely colored material, distinct from the gray soil around it. Yutu-2 was scheduled to move on, but the team instead turned their attention toward the substance and sent the rover to the crater for a better look. The Yutu-2 “drive diary” says the team commanded the rover to point its spectrometer, a device which can evaluate the composition of materials, at the unusual substance.
The team didn’t indicate what the substance might be and sadly, haven’t shared an image of the weird material. The team did, however, share an image of the rover heading for the crater to have a gander at what’s inside.
I know you’re thinking aliens but Andrew Jones, a journalist reporting on the Chinese space program, wrote one possible explanation thrown up by other researchers is that the gel-like substance is melt glass, created after a meteor strike.
China’s Chang’e 4 spacecraft landed on the moon on Jan. 3. Shortly after it sent back the very first photos of moon’s far side. The Yutu-2 rover is now in it’s ninth lunar day, which began on Aug. 25.