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Chinese moon probe returns to Earth (VIDEO)

The Chang’e-6 lunar module has safely landed, bringing back a sample of soil from the far side of the Moon

China’s unmanned Chang’e-6 lunar probe has successfully completed its mission and its reentry module has safely returned to Earth, bringing back the first ever soil samples from the far side of the moon, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) announced on Tuesday. 

The module carrying the samples parachuted down to Earth and landed in a designated zone in China’s northern Inner Mongolia region. Once all ground checks are completed, the module will be airlifted to Beijing, where it will be opened and the samples retrieved.  

CNSA chief Zhang Kejian has declared that the Chang’e-6 lunar exploration “has been a complete success.” Chinese President Xi Jinping has also hailed the mission as a “landmark achievement in building a strong country in space, and science and technology.”  

The unmanned spacecraft, which marked the sixth launch in the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program, initially set out on May 3. Its predecessor, the Chang’e 5, also traveled to the surface of the Moon in 2020 and brought back samples from its near side. 

The Chang’e-6 is expected to have brought back up to 20kg of lunar dust and rocks from the far side of the Moon, which marks the first time such samples have ever been delivered to Earth. These materials will first be analyzed by Chinese scientists and later shared with the international community. 

Experts are hoping that these historic samples will lead to new discoveries about the Moon and its evolution, as well as the development of the Earth and our Solar System in general.

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“The Chang’e-6 mission represents a significant milestone in the history of human lunar exploration, and it will contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of lunar evolution,” Yang Wei, a researcher at the Institute of Geology and Geophysics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, has said. 

Scientists have also said that they hope the new samples will provide insight into how humanity can utilize the Moon’s resources in order to eventually establish a manned presence there.  

In 2021, China and Russia signed an agreement to cooperate in the construction of what will be called the International Lunar Research Station. The project, which aims to establish an operational lunar base by 2035, is currently being developed by the CNSA and Russia’s space agency Roscosmos. However, Moscow and Beijing have stressed that all interested countries are invited to join. So far, nine nations have taken part in the project.

June 25, 2024 at 06:20PM

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