China lands spacecraft on the far side of the moon

The country’s space agency announced that China successfully landed a lunar lander on the far side of the moon on Sunday morning, bringing the mission one step closer to bringing back the first sample from the moon. The moon that humans have never seen.

The Chang’e-6 unmanned probe touched down in the moon’s South Pole-Aitken basin at 6:23 a.m., the China National Space Administration said in a report. declare.

Organ released a video captured by the landing camera as the probe touched down. In the video, the moon’s surface, with its many craters, gets closer and closer as the lander descends.

Chang’e-6, named after the Chinese moon goddess, is the second mission to reach the far side of the moon. Its predecessor, Chang’e-4, made history as the first to do so in 2019.

The far side of the moon is distinct from the near side, where the United States, China and those countries were at that time The Soviet Union collected samples. It has a thicker crust, more craters and fewer maria, or plains where lava once flowed. It is unclear why the two sides of the moon are so different; Samples collected by Chang’e-6 may provide some clues.

The South Pole-Aitkin Basin, a giant impact crater about 1,600 miles wide, is one of the largest craters in the history of the solar system, and the impact that created it is believed to have excavated material from ​​lunar mantle. That material, if retrieved, could help scientists learn more about the moon’s interior history.

To date, China is the only country to have sent missions to the far reaches of the moon, and the missions are part of the country’s growing space ambitions. in an increasingly competitive global environment. The country has succeeded launch a mission to Mars and there are plans for one Future visit to an asteroid. It also aims to send humans to the moon before 2030this would make it the second country to do so after the United States.

Chang’e-6 is the third mission to land on the moon this year. Japan became the fifth country in the world to reach the surface of the moon when the Intelligent Lunar Investigation Lander landed there in January. Odysseus, a privately operated spacecraft built by Intuitive Machines of Houston, landed in February.

Chang’e-6 took off on May 3 from the Wenchang space site on Hainan Island, southern China. It reached the moon on May 8, The Chinese space agency said, and orbited it for several weeks before touching down. The agency said the landing took about 14 minutes and the probe used cameras and 3-D laser scanners to avoid obstacles during landing.

The probe will collect samples over about two days, collecting rocks and soil from the lunar surface and also drilling underground to collect subsurface samples, the agency said.

It will then spend several more weeks in lunar orbit preparing for its five-day return trip to Earth. The entire mission is expected to take about 53 days, according to agency.

Missions to the far side of the moon are complicated because direct contact with probes there cannot be established.

In 2018, China launched the Queqiao satellite into lunar orbit to transmit information from Chang’e 4 to Earth. It launched its second satellite this March. The two satellites will be used in tandem to maintain contact with Chang’e-6 as it collects samples.

Purple Void King Report contributions.

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