The photos show a distant object that looks like a perfect cube, and China says the rover is heading to check it out.
There are a few caveats about the photo that should be noted, spotted yesterday by space reporter Andrew Jones, who described the formation as a “cubic shape”. For one thing, the object is only a few pixels away in the photo, which means it could easily be some sort of optical illusion that will be a disappointment up close.
And China has struggled with lunar science communication in the past. In 2019, Yutu-2 “discovered” a “gel-like substance” on the lunar surface, but upon closer inspection it turned out to be, well, rocks. He also announced the discovery of a “shard” on the Moon earlier this year, but that turned out to be just another interesting rock. Did we mention that there isn’t much other than rocks on the moon?
Jones, for his part, manages expectations.
“So yeah, it’s not an obelisk or aliens, but definitely something to check out,” Jones tweeted in follow-up.
The idea of alien artifacts on the Moon runs deep in popular culture – remember that scene from “2001: A Space Odyssey”? – but, needless to say, none were found in reality.
The apparent cube is located in the Von Kármán crater, and the Chinese space program has called it, evocatively, the “mysterious house”.
Yutu-2 will spend two or three lunar days traveling to investigate the cube; lunar days are about 50 minutes longer than solar days on Earth.
Jones speculated that the object could be a boulder carved by an asteroid impact, and posted a photo of an equally well-defined boulder previously found on the Moon’s surface.
CNET Coverage of the most recent discovery agrees with Jones’ analysis, saying the most likely explanation is that the Moon’s cube is a boulder.
That’s not to say that Yutu-2 never found anything cool. In 2019, CNET reported that the rover discovered that the Moon’s surface is made of different materials than we previously thought, a discovery that could better predict how the Earth’s inner layers might change over time.
We’re not saying there isn’t some weird stuff on the Moon. After all, we’ve only just found enough oxygen buried beneath its surface to feed billions of people. But suffice it to say that we don’t hold our breath on the Moon’s Cube, and if it turns out to be nothing but a boulder, we’ll be really in awe.
Find out more about the space: Scientists find huge black hole right next to our galaxy
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