China lunar probe to return to Earth with samples

On Tuesday, a Chinese spacecraft that is carrying samples from the Moon’s far side is predicted to return to Earth, ending a 53-day journey that was hailed as a global first and requiring advanced technical skills.

Although Beijing has not released the spacecraft’s expected arrival time, experts predict that it will likely land at approximately midday (0400 GMT) in a desolate region of northern Inner Mongolia.

It brings with it soil and rocks from the moon’s far side, which is facing away from Earth. This is a little-studied area with a lot of research potential, according to experts, because the craggy features there haven’t been as smoothed over by past lava flows as those on the near side.

That means the materials harvested there may help us to better understand how the Moon formed and how it has evolved over time.

On May 3, Chang’e-6 launched from a space center in the province of Hainan, an island in the moon. Almost exactly one month later, it plummeted into the vast South Pole-Aitken Basin.

It inserted a Chinese flag into the gray earth, took some pictures of the surface dotted with punctures, and utilized a drill and robotic arm to gather samples.

The Chinese state news agency Xinhua described the probe’s June 4 launch, which was the first successful launch from the far side, as “an unprecedented feat in human lunar exploration history”.

Since then, officials have been reticent to provide updates on the investigation’s status.

However, in a social media post on Friday, China’s space agency stated that it was “70 percent” of the way back to Earth.

This article has been posted by a News Hour Correspondent. For queries, please contact through [email protected]
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