The Chinese probe Chang’e 5 has managed to collect lunar rock and soil samples just three hours after landing in the region of Oceanus Procellarum (Ocean of Storms), a lava field located on the western edge of the visible face of our natural satellite.
The contraption, made up of a descent module and an ascent module, took off on November 23 with the aim of bringing lunar material to Earth for the first time since 1976. After its successful moon landing on Tuesday, it quickly got down to work. . It started with some preparatory work, including the deployment of the solar wings.
The China National Space Administration (CNSA), quoted by Xinhua, has announced that the work of the probe went according to plan. In this way, the drilling and packaging of lunar samples was completed at 10:53 p.m. Spanish peninsular time, just three hours after the moon landing.
Chang’e 5 It adopts two methods of lunar sampling. One involves the use of drills to sample a hole two meters deep. This material will act as an archive of the Moon, with information from a billion years ago. On the other hand, a mechanical arm will collect samples from the surface, which will give scientists the most current data. In total, the module is expected to recover approximately two kilograms of rocks and regolith (lunar soil), the first lunar samples obtained by China and the first to be brought to Earth since the 70s of the 20th century.
Once collected, the samples will be stored in the ascendant, which will rise from the lunar surface for transfer to the regressor and orbiter waiting in lunar orbit. The unmanned rendezvous and docking in lunar orbit will also be China’s first such task.
Then, at the appropriate time, the module will detach from the orbiter and carry the samples back to Earth, which will eventually land in Inner Mongolia in northern China.
On the hidden side
The mission, named after the Chinese deity of the Moon, is the continuation of the Chang’e 1 and Chang’e 2 orbiters, launched in 2007 and 2010, respectively. It also follows the path of the Chang’e 3 mission, which landed a lander and a rover on the Moon, in 2013, and the Chang’e 4, which landed another lander and another rover on the far side, in 2019, even allowing for a seed to germinate in space. Both the Chang’e 3 and Chang’e 4 mission landers, as well as the Chang’e 4 rover, are still in operation today.
The Chang’e 5 mission is designed to be very short-lived. However, it is expected to have a lot of impact, allowing significant research on the lunar regolith over many years.