BEIJING (AP) – A Chinese lunar capsule returned to Earth on Thursday, the first new specimens of rock and debris from the moon in more than 40 years.
State media reported at 2:00 a.m. (1800 GMT) that the capsule of the Chang 5 study had landed in the Sichuan district of the Inner Mongolia region.
The capsule was previously separated from its orbital block and made a bounce from the Earth’s atmosphere before slowing down and parachuting into the ground.
Two of Chang 5’s four volumes were set on the moon on December 1 and collected about 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) of samples by scooping them from the surface and drilling 2 meters (about 6 feet) into the lunar surface.
The samples were placed in a sealed container and transported to the return module by ascending vehicle.
Successful mission is the latest breakthrough for China’s increasingly ambitious space program, which includes plans for a robotic mission to Mars and a permanent orbital space station.
Rescue crews prepared helicopters and off-road vehicles to carry signals emitted by the lunar spacecraft home and found it in the darkness covering a vast snow-covered area in the far north of China, which had long been used as a landing site for China’s Shenzhou crew’s spacecraft.
The arrival of the spacecraft marked the first time scientists had received new models of lunar rocks since the 1976 Luna 24 robotic study of the former Soviet Union.
The newly collected rocks are thought to be billions of years younger than those previously obtained by the United States and the former Soviet Union, providing new insights into the history of the Moon and other bodies in the solar system. They come from a part of the moon known as the Oceanus Procellerum or Storm Ocean near the site of Mons Rumker, which was believed to be a volcano in ancient times.
Like the 382 kilograms (842 pounds) lunar models brought by American astronauts from 1969 to 1972, they are expected to be analyzed for age and composition and shared with other countries.
Brad Jalif, director of the McDonald’s Center for Space Science at the University of Washington, D.C., said the age of the models would help fill the gap in knowledge about the history of the moon about 1 billion to three billion years ago. Lewis, said in an email. They could also provide clues about the availability of economically viable resources on the moon, such as concentrated hydrogen and oxygen, Jalif said.
“These models are a treasure!” Jalif said. “My cap is on our Chinese colleagues for pulling a very difficult task; the science that comes from the analysis of withdrawn samples will be a tradition that will last for many, many years, and will involve the international community of scientists.”
Chang 5 exploded from a launch site in Hainan, China’s southern island province on November 23 and seems to have completed its technically sophisticated mission without any hindrance.
It marked China’s third successful lunar landing, but was thrown back from the moon. Its predecessor, Song 4, became the first probe to land on the moon’s short-explored distances, sending back data on conditions that could affect the future stay of humans on the moon.
The moon has been a specific center of the Chinese space program, which says it plans to land humans there and build a permanent base. No chronology or other details were announced.
China has also joined the effort to explore Mars. In July, it launched the Tianwen 1 probe, which carried a lander and robotic rover in search of water.
In 2003, China became the third country to send an astronaut into orbit on its own after the Soviet Union and the United States, and its space program advanced more cautiously than the 1960s US-Soviet space race, marked by initial failures. By taking increasing measures, China appears to be on track to develop a plan that can sustain sustainable progress.
“They (the American Lunar Project) read and admired the Apollo Playbook, but also learned the design,” said John Johnson-Fries, an expert in the science space program at the U.S. Navy College of War. “Better a poor horse than no horse at all. Better a poor horse than no horse at all.”
The latest aircraft is in collaboration with the European Space Agency, which helps monitor the flight. Amid concerns about the secrecy of the Chinese space program and close military ties, the United States is suspending cooperation between NASA and CNSA unless Congress approves it. This prevented China from participating in the International Space Station, which sought to compensate by launching a test space station and plans to complete a permanent orbital outpost within the next two years.