A trip to the moon in order to dig up rocks and dirt is what the China National Space Administration (CNSA) is planning.
Only two countries, the United States and the Soviet Union achieved this feat 40 and 50 years ago respectively. The United States collected 842 pounds of the moon specimen while the Soviet Union could collect only half of that amount. If China can complete this trip and get a specimen from the moon, it will become the third country to do so.
This is not the first time China is making such a trip. All such trips to the moon are in a series called Chang’e. It was named Chang’e after China’s female deity of the Earth’s natural satellite.
China’s last trip to the moon in January 2019 gave it the honor of being the only country whose spaceship landed at the extreme edge of the moon. This trip, in particular, called the Chang’e-5 would be carried out by an empty spaceship that will journey to the moon and gather specimens.
These specimens would help scientists to study scientific activities on the moon. And if possible, the account of the moon would be changed, said Xiao Long, a geologist studying at the China University in Wuhan.
It will take two weeks for the moon specimens, which would weigh 4 pounds, to be brought back to the earth if the trip is successful. These specimens would be kept at the Chinese Academy of Science National Astronomical Observatory of China in Beijing.
When the spaceship comes in contact with the surface of the moon, it will send probes. These probes will drill into the surface of the moon. After which rocks and dirt will be transferred to an ascender that will raise it up to the spaceship.
According to James Head, a planetary scientist at Brown University, moon scientists have been agitating for such missions to important places. They believe specimens returned from these trips would answer many questions from previous researches.
“The Apollo-Luna sample zone of the moon, while critical to our understanding, was undertaken in an area that comprises far less than half the lunar surface,” James Head stated.
While talking about plans, China promised to build a robotic main station. This project would be created through the Chang’e 6, 7, and 8 missions that will take place within a few years. That is because the robotic station would be needed for a trip to collect specimens from Mars.
China’s trip to collect specimens from Mars is expected to happen in 2030. That is about 10 years from now.