Chang’e 6: Chinese lunar probe returns to Earth with rock and soil samples

BANGKOK (AP) — China Chang’e 6 study Rock and soil samples returned to Earth are the first to be studied globally from the far side of the Moon.

The probe landed in the Inner Mongolia region of northern China on Tuesday afternoon.

“I now declare that the Chang’e 6 Lunar Exploration Mission has achieved complete success,” Zhang Kejian, director of China’s National Space Administration, told a televised press conference after the landing.

Chinese scientists expect the returned samples to include 2.5 million-year-old volcanic rock and other materials, which scientists hope will answer questions about the geological differences between the two sides of the moon.

The near side is viewed from Earth, and the far side faces space. The far side is known to contain mountains and impact craters, which contrast with the relatively flat expanses visible on the near side.

The probe landed in the Moon’s South Pole-Aitken Basin, an impact crater formed 4 billion years ago. Scientists expect the samples to come from different layers of the basin, which bear traces of different geologic events over its long history, such as when the moon was young and active inside to form volcanic rock.

While past American and Soviet missions had collected samples from the near side of the Moon, the Chinese mission was the first to collect samples from farther away.

“This is the first time anyone has taken samples from the far side of the Moon and brought them back,” said Richard de Gries, a professor of astrophysics at Macquarie University in Australia.

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The Moon program is part of a growing rivalry with the United States — still the leader in space exploration — and others Japan and India. China has its own space station in orbit Sending groups there.

Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory message to the Chang’e team, calling it “an important achievement in our country’s efforts to become a space and technology power”.

The probe left Earth on May 3. Its journey lasted 53 days. The probe drilled into the core and removed the rock from the surface.

The models are expected to “answer one of the most fundamental scientific questions in lunar science research: What geological activity is responsible for the differences between the two sides?” Zhongyu Yu, a geographer with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said in a report published in the journal Innovation Monday, co-published with the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

China has launched several successful missions to the moon in recent years, previously collecting samples from the near side of the moon with the Song 5 probe.

They also hope the probe will return objects bearing traces of meteorite impacts from the moon’s past. That material could shed light on the solar system’s early days. One theory is that the Moon acted as a sort of vacuum cleaner, keeping all the meteorites and debris from the pre-Computer era so they didn’t hit Earth, said de Gries, who is also executive director of the International Space Agency. Beijing.

China has said it plans to share samples from any countries with international scientists.

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AP video producer Olivia Zhang contributed to this report.

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