China moon probe Chang'e-5 back on Earth

China moon probe Chang'e-5 back on Earth”

During the return journey, the moon samples were transferred from the ascent module to the reentry module, which then reentered the Earth's atmosphere and landed in Mongolia earlier today.

The orbiter-returner combination entered the moon-Earth transfer orbit on Sunday and completed its first orbital correction on Monday. Earlier today, Chinese government-owned media outlet Xinhua reported that the country's Chang'e-5 lunar mission has successfully landed back on Earth with lunar samples onboard, making China only the third country to have ever collected lunar samples, and also the first one in 44 years after Russian Federation achieved this feat in its unmanned Luna 24 mission back in 1976.

The Chang'e-5 capsule touched down in northern China on Wednesday afternoon ET, in a landing site in the autonomous region of Inner Mongolia, according to the state-owned Xinhua News Agency.

The successful mission was the latest breakthrough for China's increasingly ambitious space program that includes a robotic mission to Mars and plans for a permanent orbiting space station.

This was the first such attempt to collect such samples since the Soviet Union's Luna 24 mission in 1976.

Those rocks and debris are thought to be billions of years younger than those obtained by the US and former Soviet Union, offering new insights into the history of the moon and other bodies in the solar system.

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It marked China's third successful lunar landing but the only one to lift off again from the moon.

China launched the Chang'e-5 spacecraft on November 24 and landed a vehicle on the moon at the start of December.

The moon has been a particular focus of the Chinese space program, which says it plans to land humans there and possibly construct a permanent base.

It landed on the near side of the moon on December 1, on a massive lava plain known as Oceanus Procellarum, or "Ocean of Storms". No timeline or other details have been announced. In July, it launched the Tianwen 1 probe, which carried a lander and a robot rover to search for water. The China National Space Administration, typically secretive with its missions, showed growing confidence in its space program, with live broadcasts of the rocket launch and return of its sample capsule, which glowed bright white from its heat in the infrared cameras that spotted it. The achievement harks back to the space race of the 1960s and 1970s, which led to unprecedented achievements made by both Russian Federation and United States of America in space missions.

Though lunar samples were brought back in USA and Soviet missions, scientists need more samples of different ages to piece together a complete history of the moon. Amid concerns over the Chinese space program's secrecy and close military connections, the USA forbids cooperation between NASA and the CNSA unless Congress gives its approval.

In his message to all members who participated in the Chang'e-5 mission, President Xi called the mission China's most complicated space project, and the success of the mission is another major achievement in overcoming difficulties by giving full play to the advantages of the new nationwide system.

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