China Launches Robotic Spacecraft To Retrieve Rocks From The Moon

Chang'e 5 Undergoing Thermal Test

China Launches Chang'e-5 Spaceship to the Moon From Hainan CC BY-SA 3.0 SHI Xiaodan Chang'e 5 Undergoing Thermal Test

More collected space-rock material will be delivered in the near future, by Japan's Hayabusa2 and NASA's OSIRIS-REx missions.

A motorcyclist passes a model of Earth at a space science museum in Wenchang, China, yesterday. The goal of the mission is to land in the Mons Rumker region of the moon, where it will operate for one lunar day, which is two weeks long and return a 2 kg sample of the lunar rock possibly by digging about 2 metres deep into the surface of the Moon.

If successful, it could be a blueprint for a Mars sample return or even a crewed lunar mission, Johnson-Freese said. The most recent, Luna 24, recovered 170.1 grams (6 ounces) of 1976 specimens from Mary Crisium, or "Sea of Crisis".

The probe will attempt to collect 2kg of samples from an as yet unvisited area of the Moon named the Ocean of Storms.

James Head, a planetary scientist at Brown University, said, "The Apollo-Luna sampling area of the Moon, which is important to our understanding, was done in an area that covers less than half the lunar surface".

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Subsequent data from orbital remote sensing missions have shown a wider diversity of rock types, mineralogies and ages than represented in the Apollo-Luna sample collections.

"Lunar scientists are advocating a robot's sample return mission in these various critical areas to address a host of basic questions left over from earlier explorations", said Head. This mission will also help clarify many questions, such as when the moon remained volcanically active in its interior.

If the latest probe is successful, China will become the third country to have retrieved lunar rock, after the USA and the USSR. According to NASA, the ascender will then dock on the service capsule, at which point the samples will be transferred to the return capsule.

Chang'e 4 -the first soft landing on the moon's relatively unexplored far side - is providing full measurements of radiation exposure from the lunar surface, information vital for any country that plans to send astronauts to the moon.

The current probe is the successor of the Chang'e-4, the world's first probe traversing the dark side of the Moon.

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Within the next decade, the country plans to establish a robotic base station to conduct unmanned exploration in the south polar region of the Moon.

It is to be developed through the Chang'e-6 7 and 8 missions through 2020 and expanded through the Mending Landing during the 2030s.

Most of the samples will go to the Chinese Academy of Sciences National Astronomical Observatory of China (NAOC) in Beijing, Nature wrote, and it's unclear whether any arrangement can be reached for USA scientists to gain access.

In July, China on its first independent voyage to Mars introduced unmanned aerial vehicle to another planet. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned.

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