Changesite-(Y): What is this mysterious lunar mineral and what is it used for?

Isbel Lázaro.

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mineral lunar

Changesite-(Y) is a mineral that was identified on the Moon by China in 2022, marking then a significant milestone in lunar exploration and materials science. This discovery, the sixth of its kind on the satellite, placed China among the pioneering nations, along with the United States and Russia, in identifying unknown minerals on the Moon.

What is this moon mineral used for?

This lunar mineral, a columnar crystal phosphate found in lunar basaltic particles, is not only an addition to lunar mineralogy, but also showed signs of being a key player in the future of nuclear fusion energy. nuclear fusion energy.

Its value lies in its helium-3 content, a stable and non-radioactive isotope, scarce on Earth but more abundant on the Moon. Scientists consider helium-3 an ideal candidate for fuel in nuclear fusion reactors because of its ability to generate energy without producing hazardous waste, overcoming one of the main challenges of today’s nuclear fission power plants.

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The relevance of Changesite-(Y)

The importance of Changesite-(Y) extends beyond its chemical composition. The samples that led to its discovery were collected by the Chang’e 5 mission in 2020, the first lunar samples brought to Earth in four decades. This finding was validated by the Commission on New Minerals, Nomenclature and Classification of the International Mineralogical Association, which underlined its scientific significance and the rigor with which it has been studied.

The study of this new mineral and the data collected from lunar samples not only enrich the understanding of the origin and evolution of the Moon, but also open new avenues for the effective use of its resources. In a broader context, the Chinese space program, which has seen significant achievements such as the lunar landing on the far side of the Moon, gained further strength with discoveries such as Changesite-(Y), highlighting the Moon’s potential as a source of energy resources for the future.

This focus on Changesite-(Y) and its utility underscores the importance of space exploration not only for pure science but also for its practical applications, promising a future in which nuclear fusion power could be a reality thanks to extraterrestrial resources.

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