China’s Historic Moon Mission Has Brought Back Rock Samples From The Far Side Of The Moon

In the realm of lunar exploration, China has accomplished what can only be described as a colossal achievement with the Chang’e-6 mission. It has managed to bring back to Earth the initial rock samples ever gathered from the other side of the moon, in history. The launch took place in May and it marked the beginning of a 53-day voyage that led Chang’e-6 to land at the ancient South Pole-Aitken Basin— where, with its drill tool and robotic arm, the lander module collected as much as two kilograms of material from the lunar surface.

The return was a success and it happened at around 2:07 pm Beijing time on Tuesday, June 25. This report was made by the South China Morning Post (SCMP). The re-entry procedure initiated precisely at 1:22 pm — an exquisite orchestration enabled by high-precision navigation data. This data allowed the China National Space Administration (CNSA) to maintain visual on the combined orbiter and re-entry capsule throughout their journey back to Earth. At an altitude nearing 5,000 kilometers above the vast southern Atlantic expanse, there came a dramatic point of separation; the fiery capsule bid farewell to its companion orbiter amidst a breathtaking descent through Earth’s protective shroud of atmosphere. The journey ended dramatically as well as it began: with fiery hues painting Siziwang Banner grasslands upon impact in Inner Mongolia— remnants of an otherworldly voyage now forever etched into terrestrial landscapes far removed from their point of origin in orbit around our planet.

The Chang’e-6 mission “has achieved complete success,” according to CNSA director Zhang Kejian. Xi Jinping, the president of China, expressed gratitude for the historic lunar exploration, saying, “The motherland and the people will always remember your outstanding contributions.” The key to deciphering the mysteries of the moon’s genesis and the early Solar System lies in the South Pole-Aitken Basin, which is the largest and oldest basin on the far side of the moon. It developed approximately 4 billion years ago.

Additionally, the materials may provide insight into how planets form inside our solar system. China has surpassed the US with this accomplishment as the only country to land on this uncharted region of the moon, a feat that was first achieved in 2019.

The distance and cratered landscape of the lunar far side make landing and exploring there extremely difficult. But there are potential riches on the moon’s far side, like ice that scientists aim to extract for future lunar settlements in order to provide water, oxygen, and hydrogen.

China is motivated to reach the lunar south pole, the next frontier, by its successful collecting of lunar samples. Water ice, which is essential for establishing a long-term human presence on the moon, is thought to exist in this area. China hopes to land humans on the moon by 2030. To that end, the Chang’e-7 and Chang’e-8 missions, scheduled for launch in 2026 and 2028, respectively, will search for water ice close to the south pole.

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