China’s Yutu 2 rover has been crawling across the moon’s surface for almost three years. Since landing in the Von Kármán crater on January 3, 2019, it has finally made an interesting discovery. On December 3rd, the rover spotted a cube-shaped object on the horizon. Yutu 2 logged the strange entity in its driving diary, referring to it as a mystery moon hut.
According to Our Space, a Chinese media channel affiliated with the Chinese National Space Administration, the moon hut was spotted in a series of moon photos taken by China’s Yutu 2. As expected, the team behind the exploration will want to get a close look at the object and are driving toward it. The rover is currently about 262 feet (80 meters) away and is expected to reach the site in about two or three lunar days – or two or three Earth months.
It’s worth noting that the term “mystery hut” (or for us, moon hut) is just a placeholder name based on the object’s appearance. It’s not actually a hut or house. Possible theories about the object’s true origin are based on science and not on an episode of X-Files. The most logical explanation is that it could be a large boulder that was excavated by an impact event on the moon.
While this moon hut may turn out to be nothing more than a basic moon rock, China’s latest discovery comes as the country has been accelerating its space program. China launched a three-person crew for a six-month mission aboard its own space station in October. They aim to set a new record for the length of time spent in space by Chinese astronauts. The country also successfully landed a solar-powered rover on Mars earlier this year.
Although the mystery moon hut is causing a lot of online buzz, Philip Stooke, a research professor in the Department of Geography and Institute for Earth and Space Exploration at the University of Western Ontario dismissed the find with one sweeping statement. Speaking to Inside Outer Space (via Space.com) he said the object is just a rock on a crater rim north of the rover’s last parking location.
The professor’s dismissive statement might be disheartening to those who are intrigued by the moon hut discovery. But based on previous moon explorations it probably is just a large boulder. While giant block-shaped moon rocks aren’t that common, its specific shape might be due to the low resolution of the image. Only better photos taken from a closer range will reveal the object’s true form. The rock is also visible in imagery snapped by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). However, if it does turn out to be something unnatural, like an artifact, it would be a game-changer for space exploration.
In recent times scientists have started to take the search for ancient relics of alien civilizations more seriously. These artifacts could be found on the moon, on Mars, or in any number of places in the solar system. So the next time you look at the night sky, wondering if the truth is out there – remember dedicated teams are trying to answer that question too.