Mature lunar soils from Fe-rich and young mare basalts in the Chang’e-5 regolith samples

Xuejin Lu, Jian Chen, Zongcheng Ling, Changqing Liu, Xiaohui Fu, Le Qiao, Jiang Zhang, Haijun Cao, Jianzhong Liu, Zhiping He & Rui Xu

Nature Astronomy (2022)
Published: 12 December 2022


“Space weathering on airless bodies produces metallic iron (Fe0) particles in the rims of mineral grains, which affect visible and near-infrared spectra and complicate the identification of surface materials. The Chang’e-5 mission provides an opportunity to couple information gained from its returned samples with in situ observations and orbital monitoring to gain insight on the details of space weathering on extremely Fe-rich basalts. By putting together all these data, we could extract a soil maturity index (Is/FeO) at the Chang’e-5 landing site of ~66 ± 3.2, indicative of a formation age for the Xu Guangqi crater, whose ejecta dominate the site, of 240–300 Myr ago. In addition, abundant large Fe0 particles were found in the sample, indicating that both the inherited Fe0 particles from late-stage mare basalts and the dense clustering of oversaturated Fe0 in extremely FeO-rich (>17 wt%) basalts contribute to observed Fe0 abundances. We suggest that space weathering of Fe-richer basalt generates Fe0 particles with a larger grain size and faster production rate.”