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Science

China moon rover will investigate cube-shaped 'mystery' object on lunar far side

Is that a boulder? Or something else?

That distant, somewhat cube-shaped object is the "mystery house" China's Yutu-2 rover is planning to take a closer look at.
Photo by CNSA

The Yutu-2 rover is on a roll. It's been exploring the far side of the moon since early 2019 as part of China's Chang'e-4 lunar lander mission. It now has its eyes set on a strange-looking cube-shaped object it spotted in the distance.  

Andrew Jones, a journalist who covers the Chinese space program for SpaceNews and Space.com, highlighted a new rover update in a series of tweets Friday. The nickname for the cube-shaped object translates to "mystery house." 

The rover team is planning to drive over and get a closer look at the object.

As with Yutu-2's intriguing discovery of a "gel-like" substance inside a crater in 2019, don't get too excited for aliens. That substance turned out to be glassy-looking rock. And as far as I know, Stanley Kubrick never planted a monolith on the real moon, and those metal sculptures that were once all the rage on Earth haven't made the trek across space.  

Yutu-2's view of the cube is fuzzy and far-off, so the object's true nature should become clearer as the rover gets closer. The most likely explanation is a boulder. This part of the moon is pockmarked with impact craters, which can feature quite a bit of chunky debris.

The Chang'e-4 mission represents the first surface exploration of the far side of the moon. The rover's work has helped scientists learn about what's happening with the geology under the lunar surface.   

Don't look to Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon for scientific information about the lunar far side. China's rover is solar-powered, so it periodically goes into hibernation when it's dark and then gets back to work when the sun is out in the Von Karman crater.

According China Daily, Yutu-2 has already traveled 2,756 feet (840 meters) across the moon. Its next jaunt should shed some light on the "mystery house."