A Chinese robot probe has successfully landed on the moon, the Chinese Government has announced.
- The uncrewed mission aims to collect lunar samples from an area called the Ocean of Storms
- The samples will help scientists learn more about the moon’s origins
- If successful, it would make China only the third nation to retrieve lunar samples
It was part of a historic mission to retrieve lunar surface samples, which will help scientists learn more about the moon’s origins.
The probe adds to a string of increasingly ambitious operations by China’s space program that aims eventually to land a human on the moon.
China launched the Chang’e-5 probe on November 24.
The uncrewed mission, named after the mythical Chinese goddess of the moon, aims to collect 2 kg of samples in a previously unvisited area.
The area is a massive lava plain known as Oceanus Procellarum, or ‘Ocean of Storms’.
If the mission is completed as planned, it would make China the third nation to have retrieved lunar samples after the United States and Russia.
The lander vehicle that touched down on the moon’s surface was one of several spacecraft deployed by the Chang’e-5 probe.
Upon landing, the vehicle is supposed to drill into the ground with a robotic arm, then transfer its soil and rock samples to an ascender vehicle that would lift off and dock with an orbiting module.
State broadcaster CCTV said it would start collecting samples on the lunar surface in the next two days.
The samples would be transferred to a return capsule for the trip back to Earth, landing in China’s Inner Mongolia region.
China made its first lunar landing in 2013.
In January last year, the Chang’e-4 probe touched down on the far side of the moon, the first space probe from any nation to do so.