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While we sort things out here on Earth, let’s take a little break and check out how everything is going at a place which is so far away and yet so close–the dark side of the moon.  Back at the very end of 2018 the Chinese Space Agency successfully landed a lunar probe on the far side of the moon (the first “soft” landing in that hemisphere ever).  China has been diligently working on lunar exploration and, prior to this landing they had already launched a relay satellite named “Queqiao” into operational orbit about 65,000 kilometers (40,000 miles) beyond the moon so that their far-side probe would be able to communicate with Earth.  Since the beginning of 2019, Chinese scientists have been exploring the moon’s dark side (which isn’t actually dark per se, but which is largely unknown to Earth’s inhabitants since the moon is tidally locked).

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As the Chinese Yutu-2 rover was exploring terrain near the Von Kármán crater (a large impact site with a diameter of around 180 kilometers (110 miles)), the radio controlled vehicle found something interesting.  The ground was covered in strange glistening green blobs which looked like something from H.G. Wells’ moon or from moon mission comic books of the 40s.

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I couldn’t find a good photo, so I will use this fantasy illustration instead. Keen eyed viewers will spot salient geopolitical trends in the drawing.

Geologists and astrophysicists have been speculating as to the nature of these amorphous lumps (which stand out dramatically on the monochrome surface of the moon–not that that is evident in any of the photos I could find) and they now believe they have an explanation.  The glossy lumps are probably a mixture of of pagioclase, iron-magnesium silicate, olivine and pyroxene.  These minerals are known to be found on the moon thanks to NASA’s manned missions 5 decades ago.  Speculation is that an intense impact melted them together into glass-like amorphous nodules of thesort which are foundin high energy events here on Earth (apologies to everyone who was hoping it was alien eggs or lunar bio-slime).  There is still a mystery though: the regolith of the Von Kármán crater is not composed of these materials, so lunar scientists are still trying to understand where the glossy green rocks came from.