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In December 2020, China’s Chang-E 5 lander brought the first Moon samples back to Earth in 40 years.
In September 2021, researchers from China, the USA, and Germany presented an analysis of the Chang-E 5 samples at the annual Europlanet Science Congress.
Two kilograms of Moon materials were extracted from an area called Oceanus Procellarum, above and below the lunar surface.
It’s a region known for ancient volcanic activity, though it’s younger than other parts of the Moon.
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Mare basalts, materials that dominates dormant volcanic regions, made up the majority of the Chang-E 5 sample that was analyzed.
But the researchers report that 10 percent of the sample they studied was not a mare basalt.
That means they were probably formed from other events on the Moon.
One peculiar find was a glassy, bead-like material that likely came from extinct volcanic vents located between 99 and 140 miles from the Chang-E landing site.
This material was also discovered in samples brought back by the Apollo mission.
The researchers say these beads likely hint at fountain-like volcanic explosions on the Moon that took place billions of years ago.
The Chang-E 5 samples provide more evidence that the Moon’s past was quite tumultuous — one that still leaves researchers with many questions.