BEIJING, Dec. 2 (Xinhua) – China’s space probe began diving to the surface of the moon just hours after landing today, in a desperate attempt to bring back the first lunar specimens in four decades.
Beijing has added billions to its military-powered space program, hoping to have a crew space station by 2022 and finally send humans to the moon.
The Chang-5 spacecraft – named after the mythical Chinese moon goddess – touched down near the moon yesterday, and is now collecting samples from the surface, China’s National Space Administration said.
Chang-5 aims to collect lunar rocks and dust to help scientists learn about the moon’s origin, structure and volcanic activity.
If the return trip is successful, China will be only the third country to receive samples from the moon, after the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1960s and 1970s.
This is the first such attempt since the Soviet Union’s Luna 24 mission in 1976.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chuning today described the mission as “revolutionary in enhancing human understanding of the moon’s history.”
China’s National Space Administration said the probe had completed drilling of the samples by this morning and was now “collecting surface samples as planned”.
The spacecraft was launched last week from the southern province of Hainan and entered a lunar journey on Saturday after a 112-hour journey.
State broadcaster CCTV showed rows of scientists in mission control, blue jackets tied with Chinese flags, monitored the investigation and then applauded after successfully touching it.
A large screen at the front of the room displays images sent by an examination of the surface of the gray moon.
A separate state media video released later showed the probe drilling into the lunar surface.
The spacecraft has previously planned to collect two kilograms of material in a scientific field called the Ocean’s Prosleram – or “Storm of the Storm” – a huge lava field, according to Nature.
Both were designed to take samples from the lunar surface, as well as to touch a two-meter-deep hole and collect samples from there, to ensure diversification.
State media said the craftsman was preparing for about 48 hours of work on the lunar surface.
According to the US space agency NASA, the samples will be returned to Earth in a capsule scheduled to land in the Inner Mongolia region of northern China in December.
Back on Earth, Chinese scientists are using footage from Chambi-5 to reconstruct patches of the moon’s surface in the lab to improve probe activity.
In the footage of the broadcaster, the lab staff of the China Academy of Space Technology shows that the rocks are made using enhanced reality glasses and shovels are used to shape the sand pit according to the moon’s surface variations.
The mission is technically challenging and involves many missions not seen during previous attempts to collect lunar rocks, Jonathan McDowell, a researcher at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, told AFP last month.
Thomas Zurbuchen, a senior official at NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, congratulated China on landing.
“This is not an easy task,” he tweeted. “When the samples collected on the moon are returned to Earth, we hope that everyone will benefit from being able to study this precious cargo that can advance the international scientific community.”
‘Dream of space’
Under President Xi Jinping, China’s plans for the “space dream”, as he puts it, have been put on hold.
Beijing finally wants to compete with the US and Russia after years of matching its space milestones.
China launched its first satellite in 1970, while manned spaceflight took decades – Yang Liwei became China’s first “technote” in 2003.
A Chinese lunar rover landed on the far side of the moon in January 2019 in a global first that sparked Beijing’s desire to become a space superpower.
The latest probe is one of many ambitious targets, including building a powerful rocket that could be handled by NASA and private rocket firm SpaceX, to pay a heavier weight than a lunar base and a permanently built space station. Is capable.
Chinese tycoons and scientists have also talked about a mission to Mars. – AFP