Monday , November 30 2020

China launches probe to collect moonstone | Canberra Times

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China plans to launch an unmanned spacecraft to the moon this week to recover moonstones in the first attempt by any nation to retrieve samples from Earth’s natural satellite since the 1970s. The Chang’e-5 probe, named after the ancient Chinese goddess of the moon, will test China’s ability to retrieve samples from space before more complex missions. If successful, the mission will make China only the third country to have taken lunar samples from the United States and the Soviet Union decades ago. China’s probe, scheduled to be launched in the coming days, will attempt to collect 2 kg of samples in a previously unexplored area in a massive lava plain called Oceanus Procellarum or “Ocean of Storms”. The Chang’e-5 mission can help answer questions such as how long the moon remained volcanically active in its interior and when its magnetic field – the key to protecting some form of life from the sun’s radiation – disappeared. Once in the moon’s orbit, the probe will aim to distribute a pair of vehicles to the surface: a lander will drill into the ground and then transfer its soil and rock samples to an ascendant that lifts off and docks with a circulating module. If this is successful, the samples are transferred to a return capsule which returns them to the ground. China made its first lunar landing in 2013. In January 2019, the Chang’e-4 probe on the far side of the moon, the first of any nation’s space probe. Within the next decade, China plans to establish a robot base station to conduct unmanned exploration in the South Polar region. In July, China launched an unmanned probe to Mars in its first independent mission to another planet. Australian Associated Press


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