Chinese rover spots strange ‘mystery house’ on the dark side of the Moon

The ‘house’ is likely to be a large boulder, but astronomers will not know the truth until the month-long trip along the satellite

Adam Smith
Monday 06 December 2021 18:22
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China’s Yuta 2 rover has spotted a “mystery house” on the far side of the Moon.

The strange cube was spotted on the horizon around 80 metres from the rover’s location in the Von Kármán crater in November, next to an impact crater.

Yuta 2 will spend the next two to three months moving across the crater to get a closer look at the object which is more likely to be a large boulder than anything else; “mystery house” (shenmi xiaowu in Chinese) is a placeholder name referenced by Our Space, a Chinese science outreach channel affiliated with the China National Space Administration (CNSA).

“It’s not an obelisk or aliens, but certainly something to check out, and hard to discern much from the image. But large boulders (right) are sometimes excavated by impacts”, space journalist Andrew Jones tweeted.

Yuta 2, and the Chang’e 4 lander, first reached the Moon in 2019 – becoming the first man-made craft to ever drive across the far side of our closest natural satellite.

As of May this year, the rover has travelled over 700 metres across the Moon’s surface and can reach a speed of 200 metres per hour on its six wheels, according to state media.

The rover also carried some cotton seeds that attempted to grow the first lifeform on the far side of the Moon, as well as soil, rock cress, rapeseed and potato seeds, yeast and fruit fly eggs.

While the cotton plant did sprout – albeit in an £1.15 million aluminium container – they were quickly pronounced dead afterwards due to the cold temperatures.

“We have given consideration to future survival in space. Learning about these plants’ growth in a low-gravity environment would allow us to lay the foundation for our future establishment of space base,” Professor Liu Hanlong of Chongqing University, who led the research, said.

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