China plans more moon missions after discovering a new mineral

12 Sep 2022

Image: © dottedyeti/

The new mineral called Changesite-(Y) contains helium-3, which could be used as a potential fuel source for nuclear fusion power in the future.

China is planning further space missions after discovering a new mineral on the surface of the moon.

Chinese authorities said on 9 September that a new mineral was discovered in lunar samples retrieved by the Chang’e 5 mission in 2020. This was the first space mission to bring moon samples back to Earth in more than 40 years.

This is the first new mineral discovered on the moon by China, according to state-sponsored media, and makes it the third country in the world to make such as claim.

The new mineral, dubbed Changesite-(Y), was described by the China Atomic Energy Authority as a “phosphate mineral in columnar crystal” that was found in lunar basalt particles.

This announcement also said that around 53 grams of the lunar sample has been shared with various research organisations.

It added that the new mineral contains helium-3, an isotope that could be used as a potential fuel source to generate nuclear fusion power in the future.

This discovery further cements the theory that the moon could be a valuable location to mine helium-3, which isn’t found in large quantities on Earth. It is believed that the moon has been bombarded with large quantities of helium-3 by solar winds due to a lack of a magnetic field, according to the European Space Agency.

As a result of the discovery, China is planning to launch three uncrewed missions to the moon over the course of the next 10 years, Bloomberg reports.

The announcement is likely to put pressure on the US as NASA’s plans to put humans back on the moon by 2025 are facing delays.

The uncrewed Artemis 1 mission – the first step of NASA’s plan – was scheduled to launch at the end of August. However, the mission has been pushed back by weeks after two scrubbed launch attempts.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic