China’s Change-5 Lunar Mission to bring back rock samples from the moon

China recently launched the Change-5 Lunar Mission. The mission is the first probe in four decades to bring back rock samples from the moon from its previously unexplored portions. Change-5 is the first probe to land on the far side of the moon.

As the rotation and revolution time period of the moon is same, only one side of the moon is constantly visible to the earth. The other side of the moon till date remains unexplored and is called the far side of the moon.

About Change-5 Mission

The mission is named after the Chinese moon goddess. It was launched from the Long March-5 carrier rocket, the largest carrier rocket of China. The mission will land in the Mons Rumker region of the moon. The mission will operate for one lunar day on the surface which is two weeks on the earth. If the mission is successful, China will become the third country to collect lunar samples after USA and Soviet Union.

The Change-5 consists of a lander, lunar orbiter and an ascent probe. It has a coring drill, robotic arm and a sample chamber to place the collected samples. It is also equipped with penetrating radar, camera and a spectrometer. The spacecraft is expected to return to the earth by December 15, 2020.

What is the plan?

As the spacecraft reaches the moon’s orbit, it will deploy a pair of vehicles to the moon’s surface namely ascender and lander. The lander will drill the moon surface and scoop out the rocks with the help of its robotic arm. The scooped-out material will be carried to the ascender vehicle. The ascending vehicle will then carry the material to the spacecraft.

Other Lunar Samples

Previously lunar samples were collected by Apollo 11 mission. The rocks found on the moon are older than those on the earth.

In 1970, Luna 16 of Soviet Union brought back 101 grams of rocks from the moon. Later other missions of the Soviet Union such as Luna 24 collected samples weighing 170 grams.

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