back to article China discovers unknown mineral on the moon, names it Changesite-(Y)

China announced last Friday it discovered a hitherto unknown mineral in samples returned from the Moon. The mineral, dubbed "Changesite-(Y)", was named after Chang’e – a moon goddess in Chinese mythology and the namesake of the Chang’e-5 mission that retrieved a sample of lunar dust in 2020. China's sample clocked in at 1. …


            1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

              Re: Weight

              The difference will not be very large (varying by about 0.5%), but it's a counter argument to the comment about 99.99999999% of the people who have ever lived being under 1g.

              It's not actually. The value of 1g varies, that's all.

        1. veti Silver badge

          Re: Weight

          I disagree. When people say something "weighs" 1kg, they are making a statement about how much of it there is. That's what's important when, e.g., baking a cake or doing the shopping.

          Scales will of course be calibrated to local gravity (as happens here on Earth, gravity is not the same - 1kg in, say, Greenland is about 0.5% heavier than that same kg in Ecuador). But it's still "1kg".

          On the Moon, I'm guessing 1lb is quite a bit more than 1kg.

        2. Tom 7 Silver badge

          Re: Weight

          Before or after he got hit by the apple and presumably ate it?

        3. hnwombat

          Re: Weight

          "No, technically it 'massed' 1.73 kg on the Moon as well, since kg is the SI unit of mass."

          True, however it also 'weighed' 3.8lbs since, as everyone knows, a pound is a measure of force (like the Newton) and the actual imperial unit of mass is the slug.

          Hmmmm... I sense an opportunity. El reg should add the slug as a unit of mass (e.g., 1 adult badger == 130.4347 banana slugs).

          However, I note that el reg has also intermixed measures of weight and mass. We need a purifying revamp of the standards!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Weight

        By an interesting coincidence, it had a mass of 1.73 kg on the Moon as well.

        Fixed it for you

    1. Macs1000

      Re: Weight

      I suppose it all hinges on whether, on the moon, you use a spring balance or an old-fashioned pair of scales!

  1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Changesite - that's a name that calls out for an accent - change site?

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      It's a little disappointing that it relates to Chinese mythology. I was hoping the new stuff found would have been given entirely random names: Changesite, Felicity, Seven, Trevor...

      It would make science class much more interesting - today we're going to learn about the mineral "Myfanwy".

    2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Have you tried a Geordie accent? I reckon it would sound pretty good using one of those.

  2. John69

    > The highly valuable gas is also extremely useful for cooling quantum machines.

    That is any Helium. You do not need Helium 3 for that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Helium-3 vs. Helium-4

      You can get to lower temperatures with Helium-3. Our cryostat would get to 1.2K with He-4, but down to 300mK with the He-3 insert. That might be useful for lower noise in quantum measurements.

      1. bonkers

        Re: Helium-3 vs. Helium-4

        Helium-3, being a Fermion, should not exhibit superfluidity, a property of bosonic liquids. Helium-4 refrigeration below 2.17K is difficult because it goes superfluid and gushes through the tiniest of gaps, ask CERN....

        <high voice> " we think the Helium is leaking"....

        Of course, Fermions can pair-up, Cooper pairs, to make Bosons, and this is why electrons can become superconductors - and why, eventually, He-3 can become superfluid, but at a much lower temperature.

        1. Short Fat Bald Hairy Man

          Re: Helium-3 vs. Helium-4

      2. Flightmode

        Re: Helium-3 vs. Helium-4

        Shower thought: 1.2K is the same as 1.2KmK. But 300mK would only be 0.3KmK.

        1. Martin-73 Silver badge

          Re: Helium-3 vs. Helium-4

          If your shower is at 1.2K, twist the knob slightly, which will turn it to somewhat hotter than the surface of the sun.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Helium-3 vs. Helium-4

          K for Kelvin, k for kilo.

          Also you can't have several SI prefixes. Of course milli cancels out kilo. What's your point?

          1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

            Re: Helium-3 vs. Helium-4

            Indeed, and kmK would be kilometre kelvins, presumably some sort of temperature differential times distance?

    2. swm Silver badge

      I believe that there is a dilution refrigerator refrigerator technique using a mixture of He3 and He4 that can reach very low temperatures while dissipating a watt or two. (

  3. Arthur the cat Silver badge

    A question

    What's the "-(Y)" bit about? Any mineralogists in the house?

    1. Xalran

      Re: A question


      There has to be another mineral called Changesite that does not contain Yttrium...

      I haven't been able to find the chemical formula ( which is strange, it has to be clearly defined for the IMA to accept a new mineral name ) but since there'es that trailing Y and it's a phosphate it at least contains the following elemen/complex : Y and PO4

      now for a complete answer, I'm going to use a similar phosphate : merrillite and merrillite-Y

      Merrillite : Ca8NaMg(PO4)7

      Merrillite-Y : Ca16Y2Mg2(PO4)14

      As you can see, the Yttrium replaced the Sodium in the formula...

      1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        Re: A question

        Thanks (to you & Dr. G. Freeman). Knew there had to be someone round here who could explain.

      2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: A question

        ...this does raise the question about why this is Ca16Y2Mg2(PO4)14 and not Ca8YMg(PO4)7. Presumably this is crystalline, and AFAIK, formulae for crystal structures normally refer to the smallest unit (e.g. NaCl, and not Na3Cl3).

      3. Richard Pennington 1

        Re: A question

        Merrillite Ca9NaMg(PO4)7 not Ca8NaMg(PO4)7

        So Yttrium (oxidation state +3) replaces Calcium (+2) and Sodium (+1).

    2. Dr. G. Freeman

      Re: A question

      Means its got a lot of yttrium in its structure compared to other minerals with the same structure and other mineral composition.

      formula: (Ca8Y)Fe2+(PO4)7

    3. Steve K Silver badge

      Re: A question

      Maybe it's a bit like Changesite but not entirely? So is Changesite-y?

  4. imanidiot Silver badge

    "They found a single crystal particle among the 140,000 lunar sample particles with a diameter of about 10 microns."

    So... actual new mineral or measurement error? Seems awfully small and rare to definitively call it a "new mineral"

    1. David 132 Silver badge

      The official Chinese line is that this new thing DID NOT come from a lab. And what reason would we have to doubt them?

    2. Hurn

      "They found a single crystal particle among the 140,000 lunar sample particles with a diameter of about 10 microns."

      Might this mean that the largest, of many particles, reached 10 microns. How many, smaller, particles were there? 0 or > 1 ? Disambiguation requested.

      This might also account for the -Y, if more particles did have Y.

  5. Management Order

    There is not a lot of helium-3 in lunar regolith (which is just the surface layer, and is the only layer that contains any at all) - it's in the tens of parts per billion at best. That means collecting and processing billions of tons of regolith for a few measly tons of helium-3, which isn't all that useful outside some niche extreme cryogenic applications. It's not a worthwhile fusion fuel - it produces less energy per fusion event than standard D-T fusion, and would be quite difficult to ignite and sustain (we don't yet know the Lawson Criterion (difficulty to ignite) for 3He-3He, but we do know it for D-3He and it's 16 times harder to ignite than D-T). The sole "advantage" is that 3He-3He is aneutronic, but the neutronic emission from D-T is actually useful for breeding more fuel.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      But the damn moon nazis beat us to it anyway!

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Awww please...

    Can we call it Chinesium.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Awww please...

      "I'm livin' on Chinese rock.

      All my best things are in hock.

      I'm livin' on Chinese rock.

      Everything's in the pawn shop."

      -- J. Thunders

    2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: Awww please...

      Nah. -ium is for elements, -ite is for rocks.

      (I emailed IUPAC and petitioned for element 113 to be Yamatium, as by tradition is you use ancient names for elements, but they went with nihonium, using the modern name :( )

  7. spold Silver badge

    Two letter error...


    1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Re: Two letter error...

      Emits whistling noises.

  8. DJ

    Yes, but does it...

    cure Covid?

  9. Richard Pennington 1


    Presumably it's called Changesite because they found it in the second place they tried.

  10. RLWatkins

    Less here than meets the eye....

    People are constantly discovering new minerals. So what?

    *Everything* on the surface of the Moon has a tiny bit of 3He in it. So what?

    3He is a terrible fusion fuel; it's difficult to fuse. Sure, fusing doesn't make your reactor parts radioactive like Tritium does, but if you can't get it to fuse then so what?

    Don't get me wrong: it's neat that they brought samples back from the Moon. But this is a tempest in a teapot, a transparent effort to get a headline.


  11. Lordrobot

    Who's the Colony Now?

    "The UK's Imperial College has reportedly decided to shut down two Chinese-sponsored aerospace research centers after warnings they could unintentionally aid the Chinese military." UNINTENTIONALLY?

    Here is BREXIT. Instead of being more independent, The UK is now essentially a US Colony. Instead of opening up global trade, the UK is closing it down on behalf of assisting the US to Nancy Kerrigan knee bash the Chinese at every turn.

    If the US and UK can no longer compete just say so... The KneeCapping foreign policy of the US and its slave state the UK, is nothing more than the new low standard of LOSERSHIP.

    It is repulsive to read a story about a great new discovery that is parsed with backhanded phrases minimizing the effort, then having the UK act in such an utterly stupid fashion on behalf of retrograde Murica... Murica is pegging the moron meter these days and UK has become it's trained ape.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: Who's the Colony Now?

      Getting right down to the nitty gritty then, Lordrobot ..... whenever what you say is true of the UKGBNI, who is to blame and be held accountable for the disaster?

      Members of Parliament in the Commons and House of Lords and their aiding and abetting Civil Servants? The Bank of England for supplying them with apparently limitless currency generating untenable debt and increasing deficits for payments of living expenses and lovely rewards? An ignorant and unwholly civilised population for tolerating and allowing such a mess to continue day after day without any end in sight? Or do you prefer to blame foreign powers over whom there are similar degrees of zero command and control and accountability ‽ .

      Who/What might they be?

      It’s all nothing less than a titanic disgrace, isn’t it? And I wouldn’t like to be discovered fundamentally responsible for that situation, for one doesn’t have to be an Einstein to know what the mob will do, with every right and justification, to that and those pulling their strings and the wool over their eyes so they cannot see what fools they are being taken for at every available opportunity.

    2. EnviableOne Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Who's the Colony Now?

      Welcome to Airstrip1

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: Welcome to Airstrip1

        The Prime Time Third World Destination, EnviableOne, for No-Hopers and Serial Losers.

  12. Ian Johnston Silver badge

    Still no Phostlite? Though I always thought it should have been Phostlium, since it's cleared said to be a metal, not a mineral.


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