In news 📰
China successfully launched its most ambitious mission to the Moon to date — this one designed to bring a handful of lunar rocks back to Earth before the end of the year.
About China Lunar Mission
- In 2013, the country made its first soft landing on the Moon with Chang’e 3, making China just one of three nations to put a spacecraft on the lunar surface.
- December 2018, China launched Chang’e 4 and successfully put a lander and rover on the far side of the Moon in early 2019 — a feat that no other nation has accomplished.
- Now with Chang’e 5, China plans to bring back samples of the Moon.
Other Planned mission
|Chang’e 6||2023||Long March 5||Lunar orbiter, lander, and sample return; scheduled to land at a currently undisclosed site near the lunar south pole, which will most likely depend on the outcome of Chang’e 5.||Planned|
|Chang’e 7||2024||Long March 5||Lunar orbiter, lander, rover, and mini-flying probe; expected to perform in-depth exploration of the lunar south pole to look for resources.||Planned|
- Note 🗒 – Beijing is investing largely in its military-run space programme, with hopes of having a crewed space station by 2022 and eventually sending humans to the moon.
In Focus – Chang’e 5 Mission
- The Chang’e-5 probe (named after the mythical Chinese moon goddess) aims to shovel up lunar rocks and soil to help scientists learn about the moon’s origins, formation and volcanic activity on its surface.
- The Chinese probe is expected to collect 2 kg of surface material from a previously unexplored area known as Oceanus Procellarum or “Ocean of Storms” which consists of a vast lava plain.
- To get Chang’e 5 en route to the Moon, China used its most powerful rocket, the Long March 5.
- Long March 5 Rocket is comprised of four parts: an orbiter, a returner, an ascender and a lander.
Significance of the mission
- As per the Lunar and Planetary Institute, rocks found on the Moon are older than any that have been found on Earth and therefore they are valuable in providing information about the Earth and the Moon’s shared history.
- Lunar samples can help to unravel some important questions in lunar science and astronomy, including the Moon’s age, its formation, the similarities and differences between the Earth and the Moon’s geologic features.
- For instance, the shape, size, arrangement and composition of individual grains and crystals in a rock can tell scientists about its history, while the radioactive clock can tell them the rock’s age.
- Further, tiny cracks in rocks can tell them about the radiation history of the Sun in the last 100,000 years.