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China’s Chang’e 6 spacecraft begins sampling on far side of the moon

China’s Chang’e 6 spacecraft has made history by successfully landing on the far side of the moon and initiating the process of collecting lunar rock samples from this previously unexplored region.

After orbiting the moon for three weeks, the spacecraft executed its touchdown at 0623 Beijing time on 2 June. It landed in the Apollo crater, a relatively flat area situated within the South Pole-Aitken impact basin.

Communications with the far side of the moon are challenging due to the lack of a direct link with Earth. However, the landing was facilitated by the Queqiao-2 relay satellite, launched in March, which enables engineers to monitor the mission's progress and send instructions from lunar orbit.

The landing procedure was conducted autonomously, with the lander and its ascent module navigating a controlled descent using onboard engines. Equipped with an obstacle avoidance system and cameras, the spacecraft identified a suitable landing site, employing a laser scanner at approximately 100 meters above the lunar surface to finalize its location before gently touching down.

Currently, the lander is engaged in the task of sample collection. Utilizing a robotic scoop to gather surface material and a drill to extract rock from a depth of around 2 meters underground, the process is expected to span 14 hours over two days, according to the China National Space Administration.

Once the samples are secured, they will be transferred to the ascent vehicle, which will propel through the moon's exosphere to rendezvous with the orbiter module. Subsequently, the orbiter will commence its journey back to Earth, releasing a re-entry capsule containing the precious lunar samples on 25 June. The capsule is scheduled to land at the Siziwang Banner site in Inner Mongolia.


Post time: Jun-03-2024