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posted by janrinok on Wednesday January 12, @06:30AM   Printer-friendly
from the they-didn't-really-expect-a-fried-rice-concession-did-they? dept.

Chinese Lunar Rover Confirms 'Mystery Hut' Is Just a Rock - ExtremeTech:

China made history in 2018 when it landed the Chang'e 4 mission on the lunar surface. The lander deployed a plucky little rover known as Yutu-2, which is still trundling around the far side of the moon—a first for humanity. Late last year, the rover spotted something unusual in the distance: a small square object dubbed the "mystery hut." The rover approached to get a closer look, and sure enough, it's a rock. It has a better name now, though. Say hello to the Jade Rabbit.

The bizarre object appeared on a photo from Yutu-2 in November 2021. The China National Space Administration (CNSA) said it would spend the next several lunar days getting closer to the object to take a closer look. So why are we only hearing about this now? A lunar day is 29.5 earth days, so the reveal is right on time.

Yutu-2 has now traveled just over a thousand meters (3,280 feet). From its vantage a few hundred meters away in November, the mystery hut looked like a small, squat building with a flat roof. The dark spot in the middle gave it the look of a shelter of some sort.


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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by khallow on Wednesday January 12, @07:36AM

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 12, @07:36AM (#1212044) Journal
    If the original box outline had been accurate, it could have been an example of lunar faulting. Some rock has a tendency to break in planes or columnar joints, such as basalt (which we know is plentiful on the Moon) and could look rectangular from several angles.

    But even so, every boulder on the Moon got there through processes very different from Earth. There is no erosion of wind and water like on Earth. So cliffs on the Moon, while they do still erode, it's in different ways - likely involving a good deal of kinetic energy.

    There's still significant earthquakes (I'll forebear from calling them moonquakes) which have greater extent than on the Earth due to the solid nature of the Moon (which is thought to not have even a slightly liquid core at this time). And meteorite/asteroid strikes which impart significant energy (from the impact of a bullet up to enough energy to end the dinosaurs and maybe us too). While it is thought that there are no active volcanoes on the Moon now, there were in the distance past and some of these may have been explosive (though the ones on Earth tend to require water, CO2, and other volatiles in order to be dangerous).

    Further, due to low gravity (the force of gravity is a sixth of Earth's) and no atmospheric resistance, anything that slides, falls, or splatters can go a long way. That boulder might be from a nearby cliff or an impact/volcanic crater hundreds of miles away. It may well be a significant discovery, if they can determine where it originated and how it got where it is now.
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