A Chinese probe flies to collect samples from the far side of the Moon – rts.ch

A Chinese probe flies to collect samples from the far side of the Moon – rts.ch
A Chinese probe flies to collect samples from the far side of the Moon – rts.ch

China launched a probe on Friday to collect samples from the far side of the Moon, a world first. Success would be a major step forward for the country’s ambitious program.

A rocket carrying the Chang’e 6 probe took off from the Wenchang Space Launch Center, on the tropical island of Hainan (south), shortly before 5:30 p.m. (11:30 a.m. in Switzerland).

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The state-run Xinhua news agency hailed the launch as “the first undertaking of this type in the history of human exploration of the Moon.” Hundreds of spectators gathered nearby to witness the latest advance in China’s space program.

“The whole mission has many challenges, each of the stages is interrelated and nerve-wracking,” said Deputy Chief Mission Designer Chang’e 6.

>> See images of the hidden side of the Moon revealed by NASA:

NASA reveals the hidden side of the Moon / News in video / 1 min. / February 9, 2015

Collect samples

The Chang’e 6 mission aims to collect around two kilos of lunar samples from the far side of the Moon and bring them back to Earth for analysis.

This is a technically complex mission, lasting 53 days, which consists in particular of launching a probe on this hemisphere of the Moon which permanently turns its back on the Earth. In 2019, China had already placed a device on the far side of the Moon but it had not brought back any samples.

The probe is to land in the immense South Pole-Aitken basin, one of the largest known impact craters in the solar system. Once there, it will collect lunar soil and rocks and conduct experiments in the area where it lands. Her mission completed, she must return to Earth and land at the Wenchang Space Launch Center.

Other missions later

Chang’e 6 is the first of three uncrewed missions to the Moon planned by China for this decade.

Then, Chang’e 7 will explore the lunar south pole in search of water, while Chang’e 8 will attempt to establish the technical feasibility of building a base on Earth’s natural satellite, with Beijing saying that a “basic model” will be completed by 2030.

According to scientists, the far side of the Moon, which is so called because it is invisible from Earth and not because it never catches the sun’s rays, is very promising for research because its craters are less covered by ancient lava flows than those on the near side.

This could therefore mean that it will be easier to collect materials to better understand how the Moon formed.

>> Read also: The hidden side of the Moon visible thanks to artificial intelligence

“The samples collected by Chang’e 6 will have a geological age of around 4 billion years,” estimated Ge Ping, vice director of the China Center for Lunar Exploration and Space Engineering.

afp/juma

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