China launches lunar mission to bring back samples from Mars

China’s launches it’s lunar mission “Chang’e-5” in over four decades to bring back samples of lunar rock from a previously unexplored portion of the Moon.

Chang’e-5 probe, which is named after the Chinese Moon goddess who is traditionally accompanied by a white or jade rabbit, is the Chinese National Space Administration’s (CNSA) lunar sample return mission launched on November 24 from the Wenchang Space Launch Center on Hainan Island in China. The target of the mission is to land in the Mons Rumker region of the moon, where it will operate for one lunar day, which is two weeks long and return a 2 kg sample of the lunar rock possibly by digging about 2 metres deep into the surface of the Moon.

The mission comprises a lunar orbiter, a lander and an ascent probe that will lift the lunar samples back into orbit and return them back to Earth. Chang’e-5 comprises a robotic arm, a coring drill, a sample chamber and is also equipped with a camera, penetrating radar and a spectrometer.

The spacecraft is set to return to Earth around December 15.

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