Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • You're sipping on a cup of steaming coffee in mission control of the China National Space

  • Administration.

  • The room is covered from wall to wall with glowing screens and monitors.

  • You lean back in your chair and gaze through the wisps of haze rising from your mug.

  • All is quiet as you are about to shut down the Yutu-2 rover for its daily recharge.

  • Suddenly a scientist burst through the doors.

  • His hair is disheveled.

  • His eyes are as large as full moons.

  • You won't believe this!” he pants.

  • We found something.”

  • You stand up and rush over to the scientist.

  • You eagerly urge him to go on, but he has to catch his breath.

  • The scientist finally stands up and sputters, “We found something strange on the dark

  • side of the moon.”

  • You take a step back and ask him to repeat himself.

  • The scientist says, “I was going through the videos from Yutu-2 and it picked up something

  • strange, something that we can't explain.”

  • A million thoughts race through your head.

  • What could the mysterious object be?

  • You need more information, but you can't help the feeling of butterflies in your stomach

  • as you think, could we have found life?

  • Aliens?

  • A crashed UFO?

  • What is it?” you ask as you shake the scientist.

  • We just don't know.

  • It looks to be a gel-like substance.

  • It is in one of the craters the rover was exploring.

  • There shouldn't be any gel on the moon!

  • There is no atmosphere and it is freezing cold,” he responds.

  • A gel-like substance, you think.

  • How could there possibly be a gel-like substance on the moon.

  • You run over to the red telephone on your desk and pick it up.

  • There are no buttons to push.

  • Once the phone is removed from the cradle it automatically calls the head of the China

  • National Space Administration.

  • The line picks up and you speak into the receiver.

  • Sir, we found something, I think you should bring everyone in.

  • This could be big.”

  • As you wait for your boss and the rest of the team to come in you think back to December

  • 7, 2018 when the China National Space Administration launched Chang'e-4.

  • The main goal of this mission was to land on the dark side of the moon and collect data.

  • On January 3, 2019 China became the first country to successfully land a spacecraft

  • on the far side of the moon.

  • You smile as you recall that this was no small feat.

  • Several other countries had tried and failed to do what your team accomplished.

  • Landing on the dark side of the moon is difficult because of the inability to maintain constant

  • communication with a spacecraft.

  • The monstrous sphere that is the moon blocks the signals between Earth and any vessel on

  • the other side.

  • To get around this problem, you and your team placed a satellite between the moon and Earth.

  • This satellite is at an angle which allows you to maintain communication with Chang'e-4

  • at all times.

  • Once the spacecraft successfully touched down, the Yutu-2 rover drove off the lowered landing

  • platform and cruised across the ancient moon dust.

  • Yutu-2 is the only rover that has ever explored the dark side of the moon.

  • It is an exciting time for all astronomers and astrogeologists.

  • Yutu-2 will collect data that may uncover the mysteries of the moon's early history.

  • You are brought out of your reminiscing when the entire team that is working on the Chang'e-4

  • lunar project floods into mission control.

  • The head of the China National Space Administration walks over to your terminal and says, “show

  • me what you have found.”

  • You replay the video from Yutu-2 showing the rover pulling up to the odd gel-like substance.

  • It seems to shimmer like diamonds.

  • It is day nine of the mission and you've been up for 24 hours straight, trying to unravel

  • the mystery of what the Yutu-2 rover has uncovered.

  • After the scientist brought the strange object to your attention, you postpone all other

  • driving plans for the foreseeable future.

  • Or at least until you can figure out what the heck it is you're looking at.

  • The video footage is delayed by a couple seconds from the vast distance the signal has to travel.

  • You have to program the rover to return to the position where it came across the gel-like

  • substance.

  • With the help of obstacle avoidance cameras you maneuver the Yutu-2 rover back towards

  • the edge of the crater where the mysterious substance is located.

  • You target the spot where the substance rests.

  • The rover slowly pulls up and comes to a stop.

  • You focus the camera on the gel-like substance.

  • Everyone is holding their breath in anticipation.

  • You cycle through the different settings and tools of the Yutu-2 camera.

  • You examine the substance in the visible light spectrum and then in the near-infrared spectrum.

  • This detects light that scatters and reflects off of the strange material.

  • The collected information will help identify the chemical makeup of the discovery.

  • The data is surprising.

  • You scratch your head as your team tries to identify the substance and understand how

  • it ended up on the moon.

  • One thing that stands out, is that the mysterious substance has a unique color.

  • It shimmers like melted glass and has a metallic sheen to it.

  • The object resembles volcanic rocks like obsidian on planet Earth.

  • The moon does not have any active volcanoes and it's core has been dead for millennia.

  • Therefore, it would seem that the substance was not created by cooling magma or other

  • volcanic activity.

  • So what is it then?

  • What could create such a unique substance on the far side of the moon?

  • You and your team of scientists come to the conclusion that at some point a meteor flying

  • hundreds of thousands of miles per hour slammed into the moon's surface.

  • The moon does not have an atmosphere like Earth, so there is nothing to slow the impact

  • of a meteor.

  • There is no protective shield that causes space rocks to burn up on entry and create

  • shooting stars like we see on our planet.

  • The meteor rockets towards the lunar surface.

  • Without anything to slow it down the crust of the moon takes the full impact of the space

  • rock.

  • This releases an enormous amount of energy.

  • It is analogous to a nuclear bomb detonating.

  • On Earth, when nuclear weapons are tested, the rocks and sand in the area become superheated

  • and create a glassy mineral called trinitite.

  • The same process happens when meteors impact the moon's surface at high velocities.

  • You and your team conclude that this must be what happened on the far side of the moon

  • to create the unknown substance.

  • The landscape is pocked with meteor impact craters.

  • The lunar surface has been battered for billions of years by the unrelenting rocks hurtling

  • through space.

  • It is too early to say with one hundred percent accuracy, but the gel-like substance you found

  • is most likely not gel at all.

  • Instead it is probably similar to the rock formation that astronauts brought back to

  • Earth during the Apollo 17 mission.

  • After that mission, scientists who analyzed the glassy rocks from the near side of the

  • moon concluded that their chemical makeup was consistent with a meteor strike.

  • High velocity meteor impacts release huge amounts of pressure and heat on minerals they

  • slam into.

  • This compression and superheating causes the chemical structures of regular rocks to shatter.

  • Then as they cool the molten minerals reform into a structure that looks like shiny glass

  • and bends light in surprising ways.

  • Something that you and your team note is that this rare mineral may be abundant on the moon.

  • Who knows what new technology and inventions could come from your discovery.

  • You know that the properties of the mystery substance must be studied further.

  • You have made an incredible discovery just eight days into your mission for the China

  • National Space Administration.

  • But it is time to carry on.

  • The moon holds many unexplained mysteries and opportunities for research.

  • One of the most surprising discoveries you want to investigate further came from Apollo

  • 17 when astronaut and geologist Harrison Schmitt discovered orange-colored soil near the spacecraft's

  • landing site.

  • It would seem that the moon has a knack for creating rocks and soil of interesting colors.

  • This discovery was baffling at the time.

  • Scientists concluded that the orange mystery soil was created during a volcanic eruption

  • 3.64 billion years ago.

  • Although the moon has not been volcanically active for billions of years, in the distant

  • past, the surface of the moon was covered with volcanoes.

  • The time during the moon's formation was full of intense seismic activity.

  • It's core was still molten and magma spewed out of numerous volcanoes across the lunar

  • surface.

  • You are hoping to gather more data on the moon's early volcanic activity during your

  • mission.

  • A different mystery your team may help solve was announced recently by NASA.

  • This mystery has to do with the side of the moon where the Yutu-2 rover is located.

  • NASA recently found a massive blob of unknown makeup underneath the surface of the far side

  • of the moon.

  • This mystery blob has a mass relative to five piles of metal the size of the Big Island

  • of Hawaii.

  • The blob sits at least 180 miles beneath the South Pole-Aitken basin.

  • The South Pole-Aitken basin is a colossal crater that was created billions of years

  • ago.

  • It was most likely formed when the moon's molten surface was beginning to cool.

  • Before the surface could harden, an asteroid slammed into the crust creating an enormous

  • indented crater.

  • But what lies below the surface?

  • What is the huge blob?

  • Maybe you and your team at the China National Space Administration can find out, since you

  • are the only ones who have a rover on the far side of the moon.

  • You and your team have already accomplished an astonishing amount in the short time the

  • Chang'e-4 mission has been active.

  • You use reflected radiation to analyze the minerals and composition of the moon's surface

  • where the rover landed.

  • This analysis of the landing sight reveals two mineral types that are not a match of

  • any of the known minerals in the moon's crust.

  • Maybe these minerals came from the much sought after lunar mantle.

  • Scientists have been working for years to identify the makeup of the moon's mantle

  • to understand its formation and inner layers better.

  • If you and your team can understand the moon's evolution, you could uncover the mysteries

  • of the moon's magnetism.

  • Did the moon have a magnetic field similar to ours in the past?

  • How strong was the magnetic field?

  • Which way was north?

  • All of these questions could be answered by you and your team.

  • The Chang'e-4 mission also has relayed information about the lunar dust layer.

  • The moon's dust is called regolith and your team has discovered that it is thicker than

  • previously thought.

  • The spacecraft your team sent to the far side of the moon has measured the regolith at 39

  • feet deep.

  • In the past the dust has caused problems to manned missions through clogging vents and

  • reducing visibility.

  • The dust itself came from pulverized rocks that settled on the lunar surface after billions

  • of years of asteroid bombardment.

  • You and your team have confirmed that this dust exists on the far side of the moon, and

  • any future missions need to take into account the dangers it poses.

  • Your team along with other scientists and astronauts have dreamed of creating a lunar

  • base.

  • A place where astronauts and researchers can go to conduct experiments.

  • It could also be a port or building facility for spacecraft that will venture further into

  • the solar system.

  • A moon base could serve as the first stop on manned missions to Mars, Venus, or beyond.

  • You think about how the data collected by Chang'e-4 could be used to make the moon base

  • a reality.

  • You envision sending more rovers to clear the dust where the habitat could be built.

  • Mining and drilling robots can be sent to harvest moon rocks and resources to construct

  • the moon base.

  • Perhaps the discovery Yutu-2 made of the mysterious substance will end up being used in future

  • technologies.

  • Your analysis of the minerals on the surface of the dark side of the moon may reveal that

  • it is an ideal location to set up a refueling station.

  • Or maybe later in your mission you find that there is ice or water laying just below the

  • surface of the moon.

  • The most precious resource in all the galaxy.

  • All of these dreams may be possible one day because of the success of the Chang'e-4 mission.

  • The mysterious substance you found still needs further analysis, but it may contain materials

  • that could further space exploration.

  • The data that the China National Space Administration is still collecting from its mission to the

  • far side of the moon may unlock the mysteries of the largest and brightest object in our

  • night sky.

  • Now check out our video What Are Some Mysterious Objects in Space We Can't Explain Yet?

  • Or maybe visiting another planet is more up your alley, in which case go watch Most Extreme

  • Planets In The Galaxy.

You're sipping on a cup of steaming coffee in mission control of the China National Space

Subtitles and vocabulary

Operation of videos Adjust the video here to display the subtitles

B1 moon substance rover surface mission lunar

China Finds Something Weird on Dark Side of the Moon

  • 4 0
    Summer posted on 2020/07/30
Video vocabulary