- The manoeuvre part of the ambitious Chang’e-5 mission – named after a mythical Chinese Moon goddess – to bring back the first lunar samples in four decades.
- A successful landing in Inner Mongolia would make China only the third country to have retrieved lunar samples after the United States and the Soviet Union.
- Launch: The Long March-5 Y5 rocket, carrying the Chang’e-5 spacecraft, was launched from Wenchang Space Launch Center (China).
- The spacecraft is set to return to Earth around December 15, 2020.
- Key Task of the Mission: To drill 2 meters beneath the moon’s surface and scoop up about 2 kilograms of rocks and other debris to be brought back to Earth.
- It will help scientists learn about:
- Moon’s origins,
- Volcanic activity on its surface and its interior, and
- When its magnetic field, key to protecting any form of life from the sun’s radiation dissipated.
About Chang’e-5 probe:
- It is an unmanned spacecraft by China.
- The probe is named after the mythical Chinese moon goddess.
- The rocket comprises four parts: an orbiter, a returner, an ascender and a lander.
- The Chang’e-5 mission is expected to realize four “firsts” in China’s space history:
- The first time for a probe to take off from the surface of the Moon.
- The first time to automatically sample the lunar surface.
- The first time to conduct unmanned rendezvous and docking in lunar orbit.
- The first time to return to Earth with lunar soil samples in escape velocity.
Significance Of Mission
If the mission is completed as planned, it would make China only the third country to have retrieved lunar samples, joining the United States and the Soviet Union.
- The Apollo programme (which first put men on the moon), the United States landed 12 astronauts over six flights from 1969 to 1972, bringing back 382 kg of rocks and soil.
- The Soviet Union Lead Luna: Deployed three successful robotic sample return missions in the 1970s. The last, the Luna 24, retrieved samples in 1976 from Mare Crisium, or “Sea of Crises” – a lunar basin.
- The Apollo-Lunar sample zone of the moon, while critical to our understanding, was undertaken in an area that comprises far less than half the lunar surface.
- 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.
Do you know?
- Early in 2019, China’s Chang’e-4 probe successfully transmitted images from the far side of the Moon, also referred to as the dark side.
- This was the first probe to land in this portion of the Moon.