China’s spaceship successfully brings home lunar samples

China’s Chang’e-5 probe successfully landed on Earth in the early hours of Thursday, bringing home the first samples of the moon in over 40 years.

According to the China National Space Administration (CNSA), the spacecraft landed at 01:59 a.m. (local time) in Siziwang Banner in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in northern China.

Zhang Kejian, head of CNSA, declared the Chang’e 5 mission a success.

It is a successful completion of China’s current three-stage lunar exploration program for orbit, landing and sample return, which began in 2004, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.

First attempt

It is China’s first attempt to extract materials from an alien body. The Chang’e-5 lunar probe was launched from the Wenchang spacecraft launch site on November 24th.

It was the first attempt to bring the lunar samples in over 40 years after the US sent astronauts to the moon to collect samples. In the unmanned lunar sampling missions of the Soviet Union, the spaceship took off from the moon and returned directly to Earth.

The 8-ton spaceship Chang’e-5 has four independent but interactive components. This includes one to stay in lunar orbit as a docking station, one to go down to the lunar surface and drill for samples, one to bring the material back to the docking station, and one to bring the samples back to Earth.

The Chang’e-5 return capsule separated from the orbiter about 5,000 km above the Atlantic. The capsule entered the earth’s atmosphere at an altitude of about 120 km. A parachute opened about 10 km above the ground.

The capsule landed smoothly in the designated area and the search team restored it, the report said.

The capsule is scheduled to be flown to Beijing to open, and the lunar samples will be given to the research team for analysis and investigation, the CNSA said.

China will make some of the samples available to scientists in other countries, said Pei Zhaoyu, CNSA’s deputy director for the Lunar Exploration and Space Program.

Chang’e-5 is one of the most complicated and challenging missions in Chinese aerospace history as it landed on the near side of the moon north of Mons Rumker in Oceanus Procellarum, also known as the Ocean of Storms, on the near side of the moon in December 1, said the report.

This site was chosen because it was more than 40 years ago a younger geological age than the US and Soviet Union sampling areas and had never been sampled. According to Chinese space scientists, the new samples, weighing around two kilograms, will be of great scientific value.

Although lunar samples have been returned in the US and Soviet missions, scientists need more samples of varying ages to compile a full history of the moon.

Chang’e-5 drilled into the lunar surface to obtain samples that record evolutionary events and reached for material on the surface. With the help of modern analytical technologies, scientists can uncover the secrets of volcanic activity and meteorite impacts over the past billion years, the report said.

The probe collected material in various places to ensure sample diversity.

After the samples were sealed, the probe’s ascender successfully removed from the moon and docked with the orbiter-returner combination in lunar orbit.

The samples were transferred to the returnees before the climber separated from the orbiter returnees. In order not to become space debris, the climber climbed back to the moon in a controlled manner, said the CNSA.

Then the Orbiter Returnees carried the precious samples home.

Pei said the Chang’e-5 mission not only marked an end to China’s current lunar exploration program, it also laid the foundation for future manned lunar and space exploration.

The milestone mission has achieved several firsts for China, including the first lunar sampling, the first take-off from an alien body, the first rendezvous and docking in lunar orbit, and the first spacecraft with samples to return to Earth’s atmosphere at high speed. Said Pei.

China is making plans for future lunar exploration, including building a basic version of a scientific research station, he said.

“We hope to work with other countries to build the international scientific research station for the moon, which could provide a common platform for moon exploration and technological experimentation,” said Pei.

China’s Mars probe Tianwen-1 is currently more than 100 million km from Earth and is functioning normally, the CNSA said on Tuesday.

It will make multiple orbital corrections and is expected to slow down in mid-February next year to enter Mars orbit, CNSA said.

Successful mission

The USA, Russia, the European Union and India have so far succeeded in sending missions to Mars, which is considered to be the most complex space mission.

India was the first Asian country to successfully launch its Mangalyaan Mars orbiter mission, which entered orbit of the red planet in 2014.

India was also the first country to enter Mars orbit on its first attempt.

A comment from Xinhua on Thursday on the moon mission said it was unfortunate to see some large countries push forward controversial agreements that would allow signatories or corporations to create exclusive “safe zones” on the moon and adopt strategies to accelerate the militarization of space .

Any such efforts to pursue hegemony in space should be resolutely rejected, the comment added.

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