TECH Natural glass material discovered in Chang'e-5 lunar samples, 'could provide support for lunar base construction'


Natural glass material discovered in Chang'e-5 lunar samples, 'could provide support for lunar base construction'

Global Times

15:04, May 08, 2023

Spherical, ellipsoidal, dumbbell-shaped glass beads are discovered in Chang'e-5 lunar soil samples. May 8, 2023. (Photo: Courtesy of Institute of Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences)

Chinese scientists have discovered multiple types of glass material in lunar samples retrieved by the Chang'e-5 mission, including the natural fiberglass which has been found for the first time and could provide important support for future lunar base construction, according to the Institute of Physics under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The natural fiberglass showed that the lunar soil has excellent properties of forming and molding glass material. This means it's feasible to use the glass material in the lunar soil to produce building materials in situ on the lunar surface, according to Shen Laiquan, a researcher from the Institute of Physics.

The glass material which includes spherical, ellipsoidal and dumbbell-shaped glass beads, as well as colloidal items of porous structure and sputtering material in fluid form, have also been found.

By analyzing the morphology, composition, microstructure and formation mechanism of the glass material, which were originated from mineral melting and rapid cooling caused by the frequent meteorite impact on the lunar surface, researchers found that there were multiple transition ways on the lunar surface of how the glass material were formed.

"The glass material recorded multi-scale meteorite impacts ranging from several kilometers to nanometers, and different shapes of the glass could reflect the impact intensity of the meteorite. This is important for us to understand the formation and evolution of lunar soil," said Zhao Rui, another researcher from the Institute of Physics.

For example, the natural fiberglass with higher length-to-diameter ratio was formed under lower temperature and speed when the meteorite impacted on the lunar surface, reflecting milder meteorite impacts events compared with the formation of glass beads which have lower length-to-diameter ratio, Zhao added.

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