The Chinese lunar probe is on its way back from the other side, with the first samples


Earlier this week, China’s Chang’e 6 probe landed on the far side of the moon after a month-long journey from Earth. It collected the first samples ever from that mysterious, long-unseen region and is now returning home.

China is the only country to successfully land on the far side of the moon. The Chang’e 4 craft landed five years ago, in 2019. This week marks the second soft landing. It is also the first sampling mission on that side of the moon, according to the China National Space Administration.

The lander’s camera captured the probe’s landing in the South Pole-Aitken Basin. The crater is 2,500 km wide and up to 8 km deep. These images are unlike anything we’ve seen before. We cannot see the far side of the moon because it is so-called Tidally Locked. It rotates in exactly the same time it takes to orbit the Earth, so the same face is always turned towards us. As a result, there has always been an intense curiosity about that side of our satellite.

Dark side, not dark

In 1959, we first saw images of what used to be called the Dark Side of the Moon – although it is not dark, just unseen. That year, the Soviet Union’s Luna 3 spacecraft sent photos back to Earth.

Other spacecraft have taken pictures since then, but missions to the other side are rare. The ground is littered with craters and the difficult terrain makes landings incredibly difficult.

Over two days, the probe used a drill and a mechanical arm to collect two kilograms of soil and rock samples from the landing site. These are now on their way back to Earth. Before taking off, the probe extended a small robotic arm that waved the Chinese flag.

The aircraft will land again in the desert of Chinese Mongolia on June 25.

New space race

The success of this project is a huge advancement for lunar missions and in particular for the Chinese space program. We are in a 21st century space race on the moon, and several countries are now competing to send crewed missions and set up bases on the moon. China hopes to send out crewed flights and build a permanent research base at the South Pole by 2030. One of the reasons they chose the South Pole as a base is that water ice is likely present.

The samples now headed to Earth are the first ever collected in this region. They can provide more information about the evolution of the moon and the components of the soil.

James Head of Brown University, who worked with Chinese scientists on the mission, told CNN: “The enigmatic far side of the moon is so different from the near side of the moon in so many ways… Without returned samples, lunar scientists cannot fully understand the moon. ”

The mail The Chinese lunar probe is on its way back from the other side, with the first samples appeared first on Explorersweb.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top