June 23, 2024


China’s Chang’e-6 lunar probe has successfully landed on the far side of the moon to collect samples, state media reported Sunday.

The lander touched down in the enormous South Pole Aitken Basin, one of the largest known impact craters in the solar system, Xinhua news agency said, citing the China National Space Administration.

This is the first attempt ever to collect samples from the rarely explored region of the moon, according to the agency.

The Chang’e-6 is on a technically complex 53-day mission that began when it lifted off on May 3.

The probe will attempt to scoop up lunar soil and rocks, and perform other experiments.

That process should be completed within two days, Xinhua said. The probe will use two methods of collection: a drill to collect samples below the surface and a robotic arm to grab samples from the surface.

Then it must attempt an unprecedented launch from the side of the moon that always points away from Earth.

Scientists say the moon’s “dark side” – so called because it is not visible from Earth, not because it never catches the sun’s rays – holds great promise for research because its craters are less covered by ancient lava flows than the near side.

Material collected from the dark side can better shed light on how the moon formed.

Plans for China’s “space dream” have been laid out in abundance under its president, Xi Jinping.

Beijing has poured huge resources into its space program over the past decade, directing a series of ambitious ventures in an effort to close the gap with the two traditional space powers: the US and Russia.

Technical staff at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center work during the Chang’e-6 mission. Photo: Xinhua/REX/Shutterstock

It has achieved several notable achievements, including the construction of a space station called Tiangong, or “heavenly palace”.

Beijing has landed robotic rovers on Mars and the moon, and China is only the third country to independently put humans into orbit.

But Washington has warned that China’s space program is being used to mask military goals and an attempt to establish dominance in space.

China aims to send a manned mission to the moon by 2030 and plans to build a base on the lunar surface.

The US also plans to put astronauts back on the moon by 2026 with its Artemis 3 mission.



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