The lunatic is on the grass
As fans of Pink Floyd know, finding something strange where it shouldn’t be happens in an equally strange place.
I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon
Good news for Roger Waters and the band – China’s lunar rover Yutu-2 (Jade Rabbit No. 2) lived up to their famous “Brain Damage” lyrics when it woke up after a lunar-night-long nap on the dark side (a.k.a. the far side) of the Moon and discovered a strange gel-like substance never seen before by any lunar rovers, satellites or landers. Did the Jade Rabbit find some lunar jade?
“With the help of obstacle-avoidance cameras, Yutu-2 carefully approached the crater and then targeted the unusually colored material and its surroundings. The rover examined both areas with its Visible and Near-Infrared Spectrometer (VNIS), which detects light that is scattered or reflected off materials to reveal their makeup.”
Kudos to Space.com for keeping a close eye on the Yutu-2 ‘drive diary’ published by the government-sanctioned Chinese-language publication Our Space (you can see it here along with many photos of Chinese rocket scientists at work) and clep.ro, the website of China’s Lunar and Space exploration group. A full lunar day lasts 29 days, 12 hours and 44 minutes, and the Yutu-2 rover shuts down in the middle of the 14-day period of sunlight to protect it against the intense direct solar radiation. Yutu-2 awoke from its latest “nap” on July 25th and traveled a few hundred feet around craters and obstacles. According to the diary, just as Yutu-2 was getting ready to shut down on July 28th, Yutu Mission Control spotted something “gel-like” with an “unusual color” not seen before on the generally drab lunar surface.
As David Letterman liked to ask … is this anything?
And if the cloud bursts, thunder in your ear
You shout and no one seems to hear
Yutu-2 is shouting in its best Roger Waters style, but no one can hear you in space. Or at least that’s as much as the Chinese government space program wants you to believe. Space.com says that they have said nothing, but “one possible explanation, outside researchers suggested, is that the substance is melt glass created from meteorites striking the surface of the moon.”
Melted glass? Or Or did the Jade Rabbit find some lunar jade?