China lands a probe on the surface of the moon to collect lunar rocks

Xinhua reported that the robotic spacecraft, named Chang’e 5 after the legendary Chinese moon goddess, will spend two days on the moon collecting soil and rock samples, guided by the mission of controlling the Earth.

It is the first attempt to collect rocks from the Moon by any country since the 1970s.

The probe’s robotic arm will pick up rocks from the surface, and the drill will roam through the ground to collect the soil. The samples, expected to weigh about 2 kg (4.5 lb), will be placed in a container in the spacecraft.

If the mission succeeds, it would make China only the third country to recover samples from the moon, after the United States and the former Soviet Union decades ago.

Astronauts from the United States He returned 382 kilograms (842 lb) of rock and soil between 1969 and 1972 during the Apollo program, while the Soviet Union collected 170.1 grams (6 ounces) of samples in 1976.

When returning the samples to Earth, the Chinese Space Agency said, scientists would be able to analyze the structure, physical properties and physical composition of the lunar soil.

The mission may help answer questions such as how long the moon has remained volcanically active in its interior, and when its magnetic field has dissipated – which is key to protecting any form of life from the sun’s rays.

A Long March-5 rocket carrying the Chang’e-5 spacecraft blasted off from the Wenchang spacecraft launch site on Hainan Island off the southern coast of China on November 24.

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The spacecraft landed on a previously unexplored area of ​​the Moon – a massive lava plain known as Oceanus Procellarum, or “storm ocean”. This large dark patch, stretching about 2,900 kilometers (1,800 mi) in width, could be a scar from a giant cosmic impact that caused the formation of an ancient sea of ​​magma, according to NASA.

The new China News Agency (Xinhua) reported that the landing is the third time that a Chinese lunar probe has successfully landed on the moon.

CNN’s Jesse Young and Mitchell McCluskey contributed to this report.

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