China to launch moon probe, seeking first lunar rock retrieval since 1970s

23 Novembre, 2020, 04:21 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • China rolls out Long March 5 rocket for Chang'e 5 moon sample-return mission launch

In the Apollo program, which put the first men on the moon, the United States landed 12 astronauts in six flights from 1969 to 1972, bringing back 382 kg (842 lb) of rocks and mud.

China's sixth mission is Chang 5 Song Project Robotic lunar exploration derives its name from a moon deity in Chinese mythology.

This new mission is considered one of the most complicated and challenging for China, since its objective is to bring samples to Earth back from the Moon. If successful, China will be only the third country ever to have retrieved samples from the moon, following the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1960s and 1970s.

Under the Apollo programme which first put men on the Moon, the USA had landed 12 astronauts over six flights from 1969 to 1972.

That touchdown will be historically significant: since the Soviet Union's Robot Luna 24 mission did so in 1976, mankind has not returned anything from the moon.

The China investigation is scheduled to begin in the coming days, collecting 2 kilograms (4 1/2 pounds) of samples in an already unfamiliar area in a huge lava field known as the Oceanus Procellarum, or "Ocean of Stroms".

"The Apollo-Luna sample zone of the moon, while critical to our understanding, was undertaken in an area that comprises far less than half the lunar surface", mentioned James Head, a planetary scientist at Brown University.

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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, he said. The Chang-5 mission may help answer questions such as how long the moon has been volcanically active in its interior and how its magnetic field - the key to protecting any life from the sun's radiation - is scattering.

The samples are important because they could help scientists understand volcanic activity on the moon, and when volcanoes were last active. Moon models are scheduled to land in China in mid-December. In January 2019, the Chang'e-4 probe was launched landed On the far side of the Moon, it is the first space probe of any country.

Within the next decade, China plans to establish a robotic base station to carry out unmanned exploration in the South Polar region.

It will be developed by the Chang'e-6 7 and 8 expeditions during the 1920s, and expanded during the 2030s before manned landings.

China has also launched since the summer a team to Mars in order to study the planet's atmosphere, environment and geological characteristics.

In July, China launched an unmanned probe into Mars in its first independent mission. Keep comments relevant to the article. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

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