Email
Password
Remember meForgot password?
    Log in with Twitter

article imageChina to launch moon probe this week to bring back lunar rocks

By Karen Graham     Nov 22, 2020 in Science
China plans to launch an unmanned spacecraft to the moon this week to bring back lunar rocks -- the first attempt by any nation to retrieve samples from Earth's natural satellite since the 1970s.
China's most ambitious moon mission is set to launch on November 24 from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Hainan province. A heavy-lift Long March 5 rocket topped with the robotic Chang'e 5 lunar sample-return spacecraft is already on the launch pad.
The Chang’e-5 probe, named after the ancient Chinese goddess of the moon, aims to bring back 2 kilograms (4 1/2 pounds) of lunar rock samples from an unvisited area in a huge lava plain known as Oceanus Procellarum, or "Ocean of Storms." The landing site for the mission has been selected near the Mons Rümker, an isolated volcanic formation in the lava plain.
Space probe of Tianwen-1 Mission was launching by Long March 5 Y4 carrier rocket on July 24  2020.
Space probe of Tianwen-1 Mission was launching by Long March 5 Y4 carrier rocket on July 24, 2020.
中新网 - China News Service
If China is successful in this mission, it will be one for the history books. Humanity hasn't returned any material from the moon since the Soviet Union's robotic Luna 24 mission did so in 1976. The Apollo 11 mission was the first to bring back moon rocks - 51 years ago - when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin brought back with them 22 kilograms of lunar rocks (the Apollo missions had brought back 382 kilograms by the time the program ended in 1972).
More collected space-rock material will be delivered in the near future, by Japan's Hayabusa2 and NASA's OSIRIS-REx missions. China's Chang’e 5 lunar sample return mission will be followed by the Chang’e 6 sample return mission from the lunar South Pole planned for 2024.
With China looking at a different region of the moon than where the Apollo missions obtained samples, this may help answer questions such as how long the moon remained volcanically active in its interior and when its magnetic field - the key to protecting any form of life from the sun’s radiation - dissipated, reports Reuters.
This picture of the Mons Rümker rise on the Oceanus Procellarum was taken from the Apollo 15 while ...
This picture of the Mons Rümker rise on the Oceanus Procellarum was taken from the Apollo 15 while in lunar orbit in 1971. The image is reduced in size by 50% from the original.
NASA (photo by Apollo 15)
The Chang’e-5 mission
Once the probe reaches the moon's orbit, two vehicles will be deployed to the lunar surface. One is a lander that will drill into the ground, then transfer its soil and rock samples to an ascender that will lift off and dock with the orbiting probe, or returner.
"Then the returner will fly back to Earth via the Earth-moon transfer orbit, reenter the atmosphere and land at the Siziwang Banner (County) of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region," explains deputy chief designer, Peng Jing, from the China Academy of Space Technology.
The significance of China's efforts to broaden its scientific boundaries is not lost on most observers. Ouyang Ziyuan, father of the Chang’e missions and founder of China’s lunar program said it best: “the moon could serve as a new and tremendous supplier of energy and resources for human beings…this is crucial to sustainable development of human beings on Earth…Whoever first conquers the Moon will benefit first.”
More about china moon probe, Change5 probe, long march 5, Nov 24, linar rocks
 
Latest News
Top News