If the Chang-5 mission is successful, China will become the third country to collect lunar material after the US and Russia.
China landed a spacecraft on the lunar surface late Tuesday on its first mission to retrieve lunar surface samples in 40 years, the country’s national space administration said.
The space agency said the investigation had successfully approached the moon and sent back images.
China launched its Chang-5 probe on November 24 from the southern province of Hainan. Named after the mythical Chinese goddess Moon, the mission aims to gather lunar material for scientists to learn more about the moon’s origins. And the solar system more generally.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying tweeted that the landing was a “historic step” that would also benefit “international cooperation and peaceful use of space.”
The mission seeks to collect two kilograms (4.4 pounds) of specimens in an as yet undiscovered area in the vast lava field known as the Oceanic Procellarium or “Ocean of Storms” and, if completed as planned, would make China the third country to retrieve lunar samples after the United States and Russia.
– Hua Chunying 华春莹 (p Spokesperson CHN) December 2, 2020
We have a * new * lunar lander!
The Chinese # Change5 The lander hit 43.1 N, 51.8 ° W today, December 1, at 15:11 UTC.
Here are some of the maps I made with the landing site area, with key features starting from the 1: 300,000 scale (~ 160 km field of view): pic.twitter.com/hsDuEvSAuG
– Paul Byrne (P for Planetary) December 1, 2020
State media reported that the lander vehicle will start drilling into the ground with a robotic arm to collect lunar materials in about two days.
The specimens are then lifted into orbit and transferred to a capsule to return to Earth, where China is expected to land in the Inner Mongolia region.
If the mission is successful, it will be the first time scientists have preserved lunar specimens since the return of objects to Russia (then the Soviet Union) in the 1970s.
China launched its first astronaut into space in 2003 and made its first lunar landing 10 years later. In January last year, the Chang-4 probe hit the far side of the moon, the first space exploration from any country and in July it launched a spacecraft to Mars to search for water.