A “mystery hut” has been spotted on the moon by China’s lunar rover, Yutu 2. The cube-shaped object was first observed in early December and since then has become a focus of mainstream media and the scientific community.
It turns out the plucky car-sized rover has made several other significant discoveries during its stay on the lunar surface. The Chinese-built Yutu 2 Rover will enter its second year on the moon in early 2022. The small craft first landed in January 2019, becoming the first to do so.
During its 24-month stay, Yutu 2 has travelled from its initial landing site, the depression of the Von Karman crater, due northwest, making ground during the moon’s shortened 14.5-hour days. Yutu, which is powered by solar panels, has used its arsenal of scientific instruments to collect crucial data.
The mystery hut, first picked up by the rover’s onboard cameras, was situated roughly 80 metres from Yutu’s position. The grainy image has been poured over by scientists and average citizens alike, many speculating about what the strange shape could be.
What we do know is that the mystery hut is not an alien base or the monolith from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: Space Odyssey. Rather, the squared-off object is likely the site of an ancient meteorite collision, according to researchers.
The interest garnered from the off-planet sighting is reminiscent of the stir caused when images from Mars first surfaced, which showed what looked like a humanoid face projecting from the Martian surface.
In 2006, the Nasa-powered Viking mission snapped aerial photographs of what looked to be an incredibly realistic face in the Cydonia region on Mars. After some investigatory work by those close to the project, the “face on Mars” was shown to be an isolated outcrop and not a giant head sticking out of the ground.
The Yutu 2 Rover also encountered several other unique geographical anomalies during its lengthy lunar stay. First described by Our Space, a Chinese-based science outreach project, Yutu encountered a “gel-like” substance on the moon’s surface. Much like the mysterious box structure observed by the rover, the gel substance is thought to be glassy material deposited on the moon by a million-year-old asteroid strike.
At present, Yutu 2 is the longest-serving and longest-surviving lunar craft. The small research craft has spent more than 1 000 Earth days on the Moon, obliterating the previous record of 321 days held by the Soviet-built Lunokhod-1.