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Remember that mysterious moon cube? Scientists now know what it is

A distant, cube-shaped object on the moon sparked the interest of researchers, so they sent the Yutu-2 rover for a closer look.
A distant, cube-shaped object on the moon sparked the interest of researchers, so they sent the Yutu-2 rover for a closer look. Courtesy / Our Space / CNSA

Remember when China’s moon rover spotted an odd, cube-shaped object on the moon last month?

People were intrigued. Was it an obelisk? A “mystery hut”? Perhaps a sign of alien life?

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Well, the rover made the rather lengthy trek over to check it out and has sent confirmation back to Earth that the object is… drumroll, please…

A rock.

Yup. It’s just a rock. And a pretty small rock, at that.

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Sorry. Space is usually pretty interesting, but this time it’s kind of boring.

Our Space, a Chinese outreach channel with affiliations to the China National Space Administration, posted a funny blog post in response to the anticlimactic finding.

“Far away in the sky, the ‘mysterious hut’ as tall as the Arc de Triomphe turned out to be very small when approached. The drivers were a little disappointed. Just as everyone was lost, a driver stared at the enlarged picture and covered his mouth and exclaimed: ‘Gosh! This is… Yutu!'” the post reads.

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“Yutu” – which is also the name of the rover – means jade rabbit in Mandarin. The driver pointed out that smaller pebbles in front and behind the rock in the photo look like a carrot and rabbit poop pellets, respectively, so now the rock and the rover share the same name. It’s kismet!

A close-up photo of the rock. Courtesy / Our Space

Space journalist Andrew Jones, who tracks China’s space program, shared his amusement about the whole affair on Twitter.

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“Oh, this is amazing. Close to tears,” he wrote.

Jones also explained that because the moon has no atmosphere or points of reference, it’s difficult to determine anything’s actual size — hence, he was not surprised that the rock is so small.

Yutu-2 recently surpassed its three-year milestone on the moon, after its lander touched down on Jan. 2, 2019. The rover has now driven just over 1,000 metres on the moon’s far side, exploring the Von Kármán crater. It is the first rover to land on the far side of the moon.

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