For more than a year, the Chinese lunar rover Yutu-2 has been exploring the surface of the far side of the moon, transmitting the collected data to Earth. But despite the successful completion of the mission, the findings of the scientists were disappointing – judging by the reports of the rover, astronauts planning to land on a satellite may have serious difficulties.
Lunar dust, called regolith, is a powdery substance interspersed with small stones that has settled on a satellite after meteorite bombardment. The thickness of such a coating, as it turned out, in places reaches twelve meters. According to scientists, regolith can interfere with radio communications, disrupt the operation of devices, and also reduces the efficiency of solar panels, which can greatly complicate the study of the moon as part of a manned mission.
“If we are going to spend [on the moon] a lot of time and build permanent habitats, we must figure out how to deal with it,” notes American biochemist and astronaut Peggy Witson.
At a depth of more than 12 meters, the lunar rover sensors found a rocky layer that alternates with coarse and shallow rock layers up to forty meters deep. It is assumed that a thorough study of the satellite’s surface in the future will determine the most suitable places for landing spacecraft. The tasks of the Chinese rover also include photographing the surface of the moon and geological exploration of the satellite within the reach of the sensors.