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Historic Chinese lunar probe returns to Earth

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Historic Chinese lunar probe returns to Earth

Forumul Economic Regional Moldova 2024 – Vatra Dornei, 4–6 iulie

An unmanned spacecraft from China returned to Earth on Tuesday with the initial samples of soil and rock ever gathered from the far side of the moon.

The Chang’e-6 probe touched down on Monday afternoon in Inner Mongolia, northern China, concluding a historic mission launched from Hainan Island’s spaceport in early May.

The Chinese lunar probe returns to Earth with the world’s first samples from the far side of the moon.

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China National Space Administration chief Zhang Kejian hailed the mission as “fully successful” following the probe’s landing. President Xi Jinping praised the Chang’e-6 mission as a “milestone accomplishment” in China’s pursuit to establish itself as a leader in space exploration and scientific research.

On June 2, the Chang’e-6 probe landed on the moon’s far side within the South Pole-Aitken Basin, one of the largest impact craters in the solar system. The probe utilized a drill to gather sub-surface materials, storing them in a container within a separate module that departed the lunar surface two days later.

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These materials collected from the moon’s far side hold potential insights into the origins of both the moon and the solar system, given the distinct geological characteristics compared to the near side, which has fewer ancient lava flows.

Chang’e-6 marks China’s second lunar mission to retrieve samples of lunar soil and rocks for return to Earth, following Chang’e-5’s mission on the near side in 2005.

These Chang’e lunar missions are pivotal elements of China’s ambition to compete with longstanding space powers like the United States and Russia in a new era of space exploration. China has already established its own permanent manned space station and aims to execute a crewed lunar mission by 2030.

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