We will use your email address only for sending you newsletters. Please see our Privacy Notice for details of your data protection rights.
The Chinese probe has finished drilling and scooping up samples of lunar rock ahead of schedule, just a day after landing on the Moon. Chang’e 5 touched down on the lunar orb this Tuesday, December 1, targetting a landing site east of a volcanic feature dubbed Mons Rümker. The China National Space Administration (CSNA) said the probe will return to Earth with up to 4.4 pounds (2kg) of lunar rock for analysis.
Chang’e 5 is expected to return around mid-December, landing in the autonomous region of Inner Mongolia in China.
Once surface operations are completed, the space probe’s ascent stage will fire a 3,000-newton-thrust engine that will carry it back into orbit.
There it will rendezvous with its orbital stage that it detached from earlier this week.
In total, the Chang’e 5 probe consists of four stages: the orbiter, the lander, the ascent stage and reentry capsule.
The ascent stage will fly to a height of about 124 miles (200km) above the Moon’s surface.
There it will dock with the orbiter and transfer over its collected samples rock samples.
The ascent stage will be abandoned at this point as the orbiter will burn its engines on a trajectory that will carry the spacecraft back home.
If the mission is successful, China will become the third nation after the US and the USSR to bring Moon rock samples back to Earth.
Even more impressively, scientists have not had access to fresh samples of lunar rock in 44 years.
The last mission to scoop up lunar regolith was the Soviet Union’s uncrewed Luna 24 in 1976.
China made its first lunar landing in 2013 with the Chang’e 3 probe.
Before it, the Chang’e 1 and Chang’e 2 were launched into lunar orbit, in 2007 and 2010 respectively.
Chang’e 1 completed its mission after one year and four months, and was deorbited and crashed into the Moon in March 2009.
Asteroid news: Early solar system resembled arcade game ‘Asteroids’ [STUDY]
NASA UFO sighting: Alien ship 25 TIMES size of Earth spotted at Sun [PICTURES]
NASA reveals ‘asteroid’ 2020 SO was actually part of 1960s rocket [REPORT]
Chang’e 2, originally launched on a six-month mission, left lunar orbit in 2011 and has been exploring deep space since.
In 2012 the probe reached the asteroid 4179 Toutatis, making China only the fourth space power after the US, Europe and Japan to do so.
And just seven years later, the Chang’e 4 probe was launched and landed on the far side of the Moon.
All five mission are named after the Chinese Moon goddess, Chang’e.
Chang’e 5, which launched on November 23, was designed to land in the Oceanus Procellarum region of the Moon.
The Mons Rümker feature found in this part of the Moon is believed to be evidence of the Moon’s ancient volcanism.
Rising up more than 3,600ft above the surrounding plains, rocks in this part of the Moon are likely more than one billion-years-old.
Scientists hope the collected rock samples will teach us more about the Moon’s geology and volcanism.
Source: Read Full Article