Chang’e 5 Moon Mission: China Becomes Third Country to Take Home Lunar Samples

China’s Chang’e 5 moon mission has successfully returned to Earth, becoming the third nation to bring home lunar samples.

According to CNBC, it was the first time for China to fulfill such achievement while the Asian country became the third nation to retrieve lunar samples after the U.S. and the Soviet Union in the 1960s and 1970s, respectively.

Launch of Chang'e 5

(Photo : China News Service/Wiki Commons)
Launch of Chang’e 5

China’s Chang’e 5 Moon Mission Returens with Lunar Samples

The Chang’e 5 spacecraft was launched on November 24 via the Long March 5 rocket. The mission landed on the lunar surface on December 1 and collected the samples the day after. Then, the spacecraft carrying the lunar samples was launched on December 3 into a predetermined orbit around the moon.

Meanwhile, China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) announced that Chang’e 5 re-entry capsule carrying moon samples has safely landed in Mongolia on December 16 at around 1 p.m. ET. A team is now working to recover the samples and transport them to China.

The state-backed publication Xinhua reported that Chinese President Xi Jinping commended the mission’s “remarkable feats,” which he said will be always remembered by China and the Chinese population. Meanwhile, another Chinese publication China Daily reported that the Chinese president encourages its space industry to make the country a “great space power as soon as possible.”

The recent China’s moon mission success further triggers its space competition against the U.S., even amid the pandemic. Back in June, China has completed its own satellite navigation system, the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System after the final satellite was launched in orbit. BeiDou rivals Global Positioning System (GPS), which is owned by the U.S. government and widely used worldwide. Also, China launched in July the Tianwen -1 Martian mission.

Read also: NASA Detects Massive ‘Human-Made’ Barrier Surrounding the Earth and It’s Affecting Space Weather

Japan’s Hayabusa2 returned with first gas sample from deep space

After a year-long journey, on December 6, Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft successfully dropped off a capsule in South Australia carrying sample from asteroid Ryugu. This is yet another cosmic exploration milestone by Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) after being able to return to Earth with samples from deep space.

Scientists soon examined the samples for any traces of gas. There were two analyses made by experts in Australia on December 7 and in Japan on December 10 to 11.

Hayabusa2 spent 16 months chasing asteroid Ryugu from 2018 to 2019. It was able to make two touchdowns in February 2019 and July 2019 when the spacecraft scooped samples, which were stored in a capsule.

Japan’s Hayabusa2 returned with first gas sample from deep space(Photo :

Japan’s Hayabusa2 returned with first gas sample from deep space

The Australian test found traces of gas, but researchers were unsure of its source. Meanwhile, the Japanese team of scientists conducted mass spectrometry of the collected gas while results indicated different atmospheric compositions compared to the gases on Earth. This confirmed that these samples are the first gas material taken from deep space. Soon, scientists will conduct a detailed analysis of the collected gas’ isotopic and molecular composition.

JAXA launched the Hayabusa2 spacecraft in 2014 to chase a distant asteroid named Ryugu. Hayabusa2 finally reached its destination in June 2018 and continued to observe Ryugu for one and a half years. Then, on November 19, 2019, the spacecraft began its journey returning to Earth with the samples after six years in space.


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