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China's Yutu 2 rover spots cube-shaped 'mystery hut' on far side of the moon

China’s Yutu 2 rover has spotted a mystery object on the horizon while working its way across Von Kármán crater on the far side of the moon.

Yutu 2 spotted a cube-shaped object on the horizon to the north and roughly 260 feet (80 meters) away in November during the mission's 36th lunar day, according to a Yutu 2 diary published by Our Space, a Chinese language science outreach channel affiliated with the China National Space Administration (CNSA).

Our Space referred to the object as a "mystery hut" (神秘小屋/shenmi xiaowu), but this a placeholder name rather than an accurate description.

This zoomed-in image shows a closer look at a cube shape spotted by China's Yutu 2 rover on the far side of the moon. (Image credit: CNSA/Our Space)

Team scientists have expressed a strong interest in the object and Yutu 2 is now expected to spend the next 2-3 lunar days (2-3 Earth months) traversing lunar regolith and avoiding craters to get a closer look, so updates can be expected.

A likely explanation for the shape would be a large boulder which has been excavated by an impact event.

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An image from China's Yutu 2 showing a cube-shaped object on the horizon on the far side of the moon. (Image credit: CNSA/Our Space)

The solar-powered Yutu 2 and Chang’e 4 lander made the first ever landing on the far side of the moon on Jan. 3, 2019, and the rover has been rolling through the  115-mile-wide (186 kilometers) Von Kármán crater ever since.

Chang'e 4, like its name suggests, is China's fourth moon mission and second to deliver a rover on the moon. The Chang'e 1 and 2 missions were orbiters, with Chang'e 3 landing on the near side of the moon with the first Yutu rover. China has also launched the Chang'e 5 T1 test mission around the moon and the Chang'e 5 moon sample return mission. 

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Andrew Jones

Andrew is a freelance space journalist with a focus on reporting on China's rapidly growing space sector. He began writing for Space.com in 2019 and writes for SpaceNews, IEEE Spectrum, National Geographic, Sky & Telescope, New Scientist and others. Andrew first caught the space bug when, as a youngster, he saw Voyager images of other worlds in our solar system for the first time. Away from space, Andrew enjoys trail running in the forests of Finland. You can follow him on Twitter @AJ_FI.