China’s Rover Unveils Hidden Lunar Secrets Deep Below Moon’s Dark Side

china s rover unveils hidden lunar secrets deep below moon s dark side.jpg Science

In a groundbreaking revelation, China’s Chang’e-4 spacecraft, the first to land on the moon’s far side, has provided scientists with a detailed visualization of the lunar surface, penetrating up to 1,000 feet deep. Since its landing in 2018, the spacecraft has been capturing breathtaking panoramas of lunar impact craters and sampling moon mantle minerals. The recent findings, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, unveil billions of years of previously concealed lunar history.

Aboard the Chang’e-4, a rover named Yutu-2, equipped with Lunar Penetrating Radar (LPR), has been instrumental in these discoveries. The LPR technology allows the rover to send radio signals deep into the lunar surface, and the resulting echoes are used to map the subsurface. In 2020, Yutu-2’s LPR was used to map the upper 130 feet of the lunar surface, but it’s only now that scientists have managed to delve deeper. This new data reveals a layered structure of dust, soil, and broken rocks, along with a crater formed by a large object’s impact and distinct layers of ancient lunar lava.

Unveiling Moon’s Hidden History: China’s Chang’e-4 Rover Explores Lunar Depths

China’s Chang’e-4, the first spacecraft to land on the far side of the moon, has been offering scientists a glimpse into the moon’s geological past since its landing in 2018. This spacecraft has been capturing striking panoramas of impact craters and sampling minerals from the lunar mantle. Its most recent achievement involves visualizing the stacked structures that make up the top 1,000 feet of the moon’s surface. This latest insight reveals billions of years of previously concealed lunar history. The findings have been published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets on August 7.

The Lunar Penetrating Radar

The Rover Yutu-2, which travelled aboard Chang’e-4, is equipped with Lunar Penetrating Radar (LPR). This technology allows the rover to send radio signals deep into the moon’s surface and listen to the echoes returning, explains Jianqing Feng, the lead study author and an astrogeological researcher at the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona. These echoes help scientists to create a map of the moon’s subsurface. In 2020, this radar was used to map the top 130 feet of the lunar surface. This time, it has gone deeper.

Unraveling the Depths of Lunar Surface

The new data reveals that the top 130 feet of the lunar surface consists of multiple layers of dust, soil, and fragmented rocks. Among these materials, a crater was discovered, presumably formed by the impact of a large object. The rubble around this crater, Feng and his colleagues hypothesize, is ejecta, debris from the impact. Deeper still, the scientists identified five distinct layers of lunar lava, which flowed across the landscape billions of years ago.

Tracing the Moon’s Geological Journey

Scientists believe our moon formed 4.51 billion years ago, shortly after the solar system itself, when a Mars-sized object collided with Earth and chipped off a piece of our planet. The moon was then subjected to constant bombardment from space objects for roughly 200 million years. Some impacts cracked the surface, allowing magma to seep out through the cracks in a series of volcanic eruptions. The data from Chang’e-4 indicates that the moon’s volcanic activity dwindled over time, with the layers of volcanic rock found to be thinner nearer the surface. As Feng puts it, "[The moon] was slowly cooling down and running out of steam in its later volcanic stage."

Looking Forward

The moon’s volcanic activity is believed to have ceased about 1 billion years ago, leading to its designation as "geologically dead". But, Feng mentions there could still be magma deep beneath the moon’s surface. The journey of Chang’e-4 is not yet complete. Feng hopes that the craft will continue to reveal unexpected geological formations on the moon in the future.


The explorations of the Chang’e-4 and its rover Yutu-2 have shed light on the moon’s geological past, revealing layers of lunar lava and a history of volcanic eruptions. It’s an exciting time for lunar exploration, and the findings of Chang’e-4 indicate there’s still much more to learn about our nearest celestial neighbor. As the rover continues its mission, we can look forward to more groundbreaking discoveries about the moon’s geology.

Crive - News that matters