China's Yutu 2 rover spotted a mysterious cube-shaped object, inevitably drawing comparisons to Stanley Kubrick's '2001: A Space Odyssey'. The rover spotted the object while traveling across the Von Kármán crater, a report from Space.com explains.
Yutu 2 is the first rover to explore the far side of the Moon, having landed there on Jan. 3, 2019. Since that time, it has sent back a wealth of images for the scientific community and space enthusiasts to pore over and investigate.
A 'mystery hut' on the Moon
In November, during the Yutu 2 rover mission's 36th lunar day the machine's cameras spotted a cube-shaped object approximately 260 feet (80 meters) away on the northern horizon. The discovery was brought to our attention by Space.com, which reported on a Yutu 2 diary entry by Our Space, a Chinese language blog associated with the China National Space Administration (CNSA).
The Our Space post described the cube-shaped object as a "mystery hut" (神秘小屋/shenmi xiaowu), due to its tantalizingly angular shape. It's hard not to think of the monolith in '2001: A Space Odyssey', an angular solitary machine built by an extraterrestrial species. It's worth pointing out that, though we know very little about the object, it is likely a large boulder that was unearthed by an ancient meteorite strike on the Moon. Questions do remain, however, such as how an impact could have created such a cube-shaped object, and is there any other interesting debris scattered nearby?
China positions itself as a spacefaring superpower
Scientists have recently ramped up the search for structures built by intelligent life throughout the universe, with the likes of Uppsala University's search for Dyson spheres, but the likelihood that we would discover a similar structure on the Moon is practically negligible. Updates on the mysterious lunar object will come soon, however, as Yutu 2 will spend 2-3 lunar days getting closer to the object to send more detailed pictures back to Earth.
Whatever the Yutu 2 rover discovers, China's space agency will be pleased to see the scientific community holding its breath over space exploration images from China's Chang'e 4 mission, which launched Yutu 2 to the far side of the Moon. That mission is part of China's wide-ranging plans to position itself as one of the world superpowers in space over the coming years. Just last week, for example, China's space agency revealed that it was building a fission reactor for the Moon that would be 100 times more powerful than one being built by NASA. The country has also announced that it will collaborate with Russia on a lunar space station, which will directly rival NASA's lunar Gateway program.