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China's Chang'e-6 lifts off from Moon's far side

This successful mission marks a significant milestone in China's space program, solidifying its position as a major player in lunar exploration.

News Arena Network - Beijing - UPDATED: June 4, 2024, 02:25 AM - 4 mins read

Image for representative use.

China's Chang'e-6 lifts off from Moon's far side

Image for representative use.


China's ambitious lunar mission, Chang'e-6, has achieved a historic feat by lifting off from the far side of the Moon, carrying the first-ever samples collected from this unexplored terrain.

 

This successful mission marks a significant milestone in China's space program, solidifying its position as a major player in lunar exploration.

 

The China National Space Administration (CNSA) announced that the ascender module of the Chang'e-6 probe separated from the lunar surface on Tuesday and entered a pre-set lunar orbit.

 

The Chang'e-6 probe, launched on May 3rd, comprises an orbiter, a lander, an ascender, and a returner, similar to its predecessor Chang'e-5.

 

This mission holds special significance as it represents the first attempt to collect and return samples from the Moon's far side, a region permanently facing away from Earth. Notably, China is the only country to have achieved a lunar landing on the far side, previously accomplishing this feat in 2019.

 

India, however, secured a distinct accomplishment last year when its Chandrayaan-3 mission successfully landed the Pragyaan rover near the Moon's south pole, a region with minimal exploration.

 

The Chang'e-6 lander-ascender combination touched down on June 2nd in the South Pole-Aitken (SPA) Basin, marking a historic first. After completing automated sampling using a drill and a robotic arm, the collected lunar soil was meticulously stored within the ascender.

 

The CNSA highlighted the crucial role played by ground-based simulations that aided in informed decision-making throughout the sampling and packaging process.

 

The mission successfully withstood the harsh thermal conditions of the lunar far side, the CNSA reported.

 

The Chang'e-6 probe employed a dual sampling approach, utilizing a drill to extract subsurface samples and a robotic arm for surface collection.

 

Ge Ping, the spokesperson for the Chang'e-6 mission, emphasized the scientific importance of the retrieved lunar samples.

 

He explained that in-depth analysis of these samples will provide valuable insights into the Moon's formation, evolutionary history, and the origins of our solar system.

 

This knowledge will serve as a stepping stone for future lunar exploration endeavors.

 

The Chang'e-6 lander was equipped with various scientific instruments, including a landing camera, a panoramic camera, a lunar soil structure detector, and a lunar mineral spectrum analyzer.

 

These instruments functioned flawlessly, facilitating planned scientific exploration activities.

 

The mission also incorporated international collaborations. The Negative Ions on the Lunar Surface (NILS) instrument, developed by the European Space Agency (ESA) and Sweden, and the Detection of Outgassing RadoN (DORN) instrument, developed by France, were successfully deployed on the lander and conducted their designated scientific measurements.

 

The next stage of the mission involves an unmanned rendezvous and docking maneuver between the ascender carrying the samples and the orbiter-returner combination currently orbiting the Moon.

 

Following this, the precious lunar samples will be transferred to the return capsule for the journey back to Earth.

 

The orbiter-returner will remain in lunar orbit until the optimal window for Earth return arrives. Upon re-entry into Earth's atmosphere, the return capsule, containing the lunar treasures, will target a designated landing zone in Siziwang Banner, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

 

China's long-term lunar ambitions include landing astronauts on the Moon by 2030 and establishing a research base at the south pole, a region believed to hold water ice deposits.

 

Two additional missions are planned in the lead-up to the 2030 crewed lunar landing target.

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