Historic Return: China’s Lunar Probe Brings Back First Samples from Far Side of Moon

Historic Return China's Lunar Probe Brings Back First Samples from Far Side of Moon

China’s Chang’e 6 spacecraft made history on Tuesday when it returned to Earth carrying soil and rock samples from the moon’s rarely visited far side.

On Tuesday afternoon local time, the probe touched down in the northern Chinese area of Inner Mongolia.

The Chinese mission was the first to gather samples from the far side of the moon, while previous American and Soviet missions had done so from the near side.

The samples, according to Chinese scientists, will contain volcanic rock that is 2.5 million years old as well as other materials that they believe may provide answers to their queries regarding the variations between the two sides of the moon.

The lunar regions that consistently face away from Earth have long captivated scientists. The near side appears to be quite flat, whereas the far side is known to include mountains and impact craters.

As a result, samples from the far side may include information on hitherto unexplored geological periods in the moon’s past, which may aid in the reconstruction of the solar system’s formation.

Additionally, researchers are hoping that the sample material contains remnants of past meteorite strikes on the moon.

On May 3, the Chang’e 6 spacecraft lifted out from the Wenchang Space Launch Site in the southern island province of Hainan, China.

The spaceship touched down near the South Pole-Aitken basin, a massive, old impact crater, approximately one month later. 53 days in all were spent on the mission.

“One of the most fundamental scientific questions in lunar science research: what geologic activity is responsible for the differences between the two sides?” is anticipated to be addressed by the samples. In a statement published in The Innovation, a publication published in collaboration with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Zongyu Yue, a geologist at the academy, said.

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Recent years have seen China launch several successful lunar missions, which are significant achievements for the nation’s quickly developing space program. China has stated that it wants to send men to the moon by 2030 and that it eventually wants to establish a lunar outpost.

Competition between the United States, India, and other countries with comparable lunar aspirations has resulted from these goals.

China successfully landed a spacecraft on the moon in 2013 as part of the Chang’e 3 mission, becoming the third nation to do so after the United States and the former Soviet Union.

China made history in 2019 by being the first nation to send a probe to the moon’s far side. A little rover called Yutu-2 was sent to the moon’s surface by the Chang’e 4 mission to investigate the Von Kármán crater in the South Pole-Aitken basin.

The Chang’e 5 spacecraft made a successful landing on Oceanus Procellarum, a volcanic plain, when China visited the near side of the moon the following year. Samples were collected there and returned to Earth by the probe.


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