China successfully lands the Chang’e 5 module on the Moon. A few days ago China successfully launched the Chang’e 5 mission from Earth and it has successfully reached the Moon. The Chang’e 5 lunar module has touched down on the Moon without apparent problems. Now the mission is to collect samples from the lunar surface and, more importantly, to return them intact to Earth.
- NASA begins assembling the Space Launch System
- NASA certifies Crew Dragon spacecraft to fly to ISS
- NASA contacts Voyager 2 for the first time since March
On December 1st China successfully landed on the Moon. This is not the first time they have done so, and in fact, they have already marked history by landing on the hidden side of the Moon for the first time. Now, the mission is a little different, if they succeed, they will become the third country to bring lunar samples to Earth.
The lunar module has landed in an area near the Mons Rümker volcanic zone in the Oceanus Porocellarum region. The complete mission was led by the Long March 5 (the rocket) that took the ship out of the Earth and directed it to the Moon.
The ship itself is composed of different stages that are separated (and brought together) throughout the mission. First, we have an orbiter that stays (as its name indicates) orbiting the Moon while the mission is completed. Then we have a re-entry capsule that will return to Earth, then a lander that is in charge of landing on the moon, and a descender that is attached to the lander.
The descent itself contains the tools to drill the surface, collect samples (about two kilograms) and then launch from the Moon back to the orbiter. Once together again, the orbiter returns to Earth and launches the re-entry capsule with the samples inside. It is expected to fall somewhere in the Mongolian desert by the end of the month. Collecting samples from the Moon, of course, is no easy task.
This whole process is expected to take two weeks because the ship is not prepared to withstand the cold of the lunar night. Each night and day on the Moon lasts about 14 Earth days, so you have about 14 days before it gets dark on the Moon and temperatures drop considerably to damage the module. So far everything is going according to plan.
This mission is a much more important feat than it may seem. The Asian country will certainly not be the first, but it will be the only one to do so again for almost five decades. The United States with the Apollo 11 mission was the first country to bring back lunar samples in 1969 and the Soviet Union the last to do so in 1976.
China successfully lands the Chang’e 5 module on the Moon. In addition to the milestone itself, Chang’e 5 is expected to bring the youngest moon samples of all. While the Apollo missions brought samples formed 3.1 billion years ago, the Chang’e 5 samples are expected to be 1.2 billion years old. This effectively allows for a more diverse and complete study of the formation and evolution of our satellite.