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‘Cabin’ cube mystery on the far side of the moon

Benedict Brook, December 8, 2021 7:00PM Kids News

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A mystery object on the moon is puzzling scientists. Picture: China National Space Administration media_cameraA mystery object on the moon is puzzling scientists. Picture: China National Space Administration

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A mysterious object discovered on the far side of the moon is leading scientists to collectively scratch their heads.

The seemingly bizarre, cuboid-like structure was spotted by China’s Yutu-2 rover, which is slowly making its way across the previously unexplored Von Karman crater located in the moon’s southern hemisphere.

An image taken by Yutu-2 and examined by the mission team last week appears to show a distinctive, almost square object on the horizon.

Scientists have dubbed the space object the “mystery hut” because if its resemblance to a cabin.

media_cameraThe Yutu-2 moon rover is the first to explore the far side of the moon and has been exploring since 2019. Picture: China National Space Administration via CNS/AFP

Hong Kong newspaper The South China Morning Post reported that the finding was first mentioned by Our Space, a science outreach digital outlet affiliated* with Beijing’s space program.

The blog’s authors said Yutu-2’s Earth-based drivers were examining the images sent back by the rover when “suddenly, an obtrusive* cube on the northern skyline caught their attention”.

“This object pierced through the winding of the skyline, like a ‘mysterious hut’.”

Measurements have suggested the object is around 80m away from the rover.

The Yutu-2 will now head towards the object to investigate it further.

But it is not going to be a fast trip. The rover’s progress is deliberately slow and steady to avoid falling into craters or colliding with rocks.

It also can’t operate during lunar nights, which last around 14 Earth days, which means it could take two to three months to reach the “cabin” on the moon.

“Was it a home built by aliens after the crash landing? Or is it the pioneer* spacecraft of the predecessors* to explore the moon?” the Our Space blog speculated*.

Supplied  A mystery object on the moon is puzzling scientists. Picture: China  National Space Administration. media_cameraWhat do you think this mystery moon object could be? Picture: China National Space Administration

But scientists believe it’s most likely to be a large boulder* thrown from the moon’s surface by a meteorite* impact.

Yutu-2, which means “jade rabbit” arrived on the moon in January 2019 aboard the lander spacecraft Chang’e-4.

It made touchdown on the 180km wide Von Karman crater, near the moon’s south pole, and the rover has spent the last two years exploring its local surroundings.

Yutu-2 is powered by solar panels and has operated for a longer period of time than any other lunar rover.

Its mission is to explore a portion of the far side of the moon. This is the hemisphere of the moon that always faces away from Earth and so can only be examined from space.

Chang’e-4 was the first spacecraft to successfully land on the moon’s far side.

media_cameraThe dark side of the moon, as taken by the Chang’e-4 probe in 2019. Picture: China National Space Administration/AFP

GLOSSARY

  • affiliated: formally attached or connected to another organisation
  • obtrusive: noticeable, obvious, apparent, conspicuous
  • pioneer: among the first to develop or try something new
  • predecessors: person or thing that came before
  • speculated: suggested, conjectured, surmised, guessed
  • boulder: large rock
  • meteorite: space rocks or debris that range in size from dust grains to small asteroids

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QUICK QUIZ

  1. The rover is making its way across which crater?
  2. In which hemisphere of the moon was the apparent object spotted?
  3. How long might it take the rover to reach the object?
  4. How long do lunar nights last?
  5. When did Yutu-2 arrive on the moon?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. What’s the answer?
What do you think is the answer to this mystery? Use evidence or information from the story to back up your ideas.

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Science

2. Extension
Write a story that begins with: “This object pierced through the winding of the skyline …”

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Science

VCOP ACTIVITY
Imaginative dialogue
Imagine you were there during the event being discussed in the article, or for the interview.

Create a conversation between two characters from the article – you may need or want to include yourself as one of the characters. Don’t forget to try to use facts and details from the article to help make your dialogue as realistic as possible.

Go through your writing and highlight any punctuation you have used in green. Make sure you carefully check the punctuation used for the dialogue and ensure you have opened and closed the speaking in the correct places.

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