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China’s Chang’e-6 begins a return journey from the far side of the Moon

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The probe completed its sample collection mission on June 2 and 3

What’s the story

China’s National Space Agency announced the successful launch of the Chang’e-6 probe from the far side of the moon, marking an important step toward China becoming the first country to return samples from this region.

The probe completed its sample collection mission on June 2 and 3, taking off at 7:38 a.m. local time.

The China National Space Administration (CNSA) confirmed that Chang’e-6 “has passed the test of high temperatures on the far side of the moon.”

Chang’e-6 overcomes technical challenges and collects lunar samples

Unlike its predecessor, Chang’e-5, which collected samples from the near side of the moon, Chang’e-6 faced additional technical challenges.

The probe had to operate without direct communication with Earth’s ground stations and relied on the Queqiao-2 relay satellite for communications.

Using a drill and a robotic arm, it collected soil samples from both the moon’s surface and subsurface.

After obtaining these samples, Chang’e-6 displayed the Chinese national flag on the far side of the moon for the first time.

Lunar samples are expected to provide insights into the solar system

The probe is now in lunar orbit and will rendezvous with another spacecraft before transferring its payload to a return module.

The reentry module will then begin its journey back to Earth, with a landing in China’s Inner Mongolia region expected around June 25.

Scientists around the world are eagerly awaiting the return of these lunar samples, hoping they can provide insight into the origins of our solar system.

The Chang’e-6 mission arouses national pride and international interest

The Chang’e-6 mission is a source of national pride in China, with thousands of tourists flocking to viewing sites in Hainan province to witness the launch.

Images of a hole left on the moon’s surface by Chang’e-6’s digging of samples went viral on Chinese social media platform Weibo.

The probe landed in the South Pole Aitken Basin, an unexplored location that could provide insight into an era of heavy bombardment on the solar system.

International cooperation

The Chang’e-6 mission highlights China’s growing influence in space exploration

The Chang’e-6 mission also carries payloads from Italian, French and Pakistani research institutes, as well as the European Space Agency.

These will collect data on various space and Earth issues, underscoring China’s growing role in international space exploration.

James Carpenter, head of the European Space Agency’s lunar science bureau, expressed hope for “extremely strong” cooperation between European and Chinese scientists in analyzing the lunar samples brought back by Chang’e-6.

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