军舰

Chang'e 6 to collect samples from far side of the moon

Release time:2024-01-10 Publisher:South Asia Development

The Chang'e 6 spacecraft, China's next robotic expedition to the moon, has been scheduled to land on the moon in the first half of this year and will be tasked with bringing back samples from the silver celestial body's little-known far side, according to the China National Space Administration.

The administration said in a news release on Wednesday that components of the Chang'e 6 probe were transported by two military cargo planes to Haikou, capital of Hainan province, on Monday and Tuesday, and were then carried by trucks to the Wenchang Space Launch Center on the east coast of the island province.

The probe will be assembled and undergo prelaunch checks at the center, it noted, adding that preparatory work is underway at all systems involved in the coming mission.

Like Chang'e 5, its predecessor, the Chang'e 6 spacecraft consists of four components – an orbiter, a lander, an ascender and a re-entry module.

Its operational process will also mimic that of the Chang'e 5. After the probe reaches lunar orbit, the components will separate into two parts, with the orbiter and re-entry module remaining in orbit while the lander and ascender head for the moon's surface.

The lander/ascender combination will make a soft landing and then start using a drill and a mechanical arm to gather lunar rocks and soil.

Once the surface operations are done, the ascender's rocket will elevate it to lunar orbit to dock with the re-entry module. It will transfer samples to the module, which will carry them to Earth.

The United States, the former Soviet Union and China have brought lunar samples back to Earth, but none has ever obtained samples from the far side of the moon.

Tidal forces on Earth slow the moon's rotation to the point where the same side always faces Earth. The other side, most of which is never visible from Earth, is the moon's far side.

Though the far side had been extensively photographed by spacecraft, starting with a Soviet probe in 1959, no probe had ever touched down on it until China's Chang'e 4 mission, which landed in the Von Karman crater in the South Pole-Aitken Basin in January 2019.