China’s Chang’e-5 Moon Mission Probe Touches Down On The Lunar Surface

China’s Chang’e-5 Moon Mission Probe Touches Down On The Lunar Surface.

Its robotic Chang’e-5 mission touched down a short while ago with the aim of collecting samples of rock and dust to bring back to Earth. China’s moon program has targeted Mons Rümker, a high volcanic complex in a nearside region known as Oceanus Procellarum.

After touchdown, the agency said, the lander deployed its solar wings and a directional antenna and began preparing for sample collection, a procedure expected to take about two days. The lander is expected to spend the next couple of days examining its surroundings and gathering up surface materials.

“Congratulations to China on the successful landing of Chang’e 5,” tweeted Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s science director. “This is no easy task. When the samples collected on the moon are returned to Earth, we hope everyone will benefit from being able to study this precious cargo.”

The 8.2-tonne Chang’e-5 spacecraft “stack” was launched from the Wenchang spaceport in southern China on 24 November (local time). It arrived above the Moon at the weekend and then set about circularising its orbit before splitting in two. One half – a service vehicle and return module – stayed in orbit, while a lander-ascender segment was prepared for a touchdown attempt.

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Tony Winterburn

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