China’s Chang’e-5 lunar probe has successfully collected lunar soil and rock samples and is fully prepared to return to Earth. The probe landed on the moon on Tuesday in an area known as Sea of Storms in what happened as China’s third successful, robotic landing on the moon. China is the third country to successfully send spacecraft to the lunar surface after the United States and the former USSR – in 1976.
The last time any country spent spacecraft to the moon was 44 years ago – in 1976 – and Chang’e-3 and Chang’e-4 had successfully done that before it came to the turn of Chang’e-5. As it stands, China has dispatched another spacecraft to Mars and it is currently approaching the Red Planet.
Beijing reported that the lunar spacecraft has completed its tasks of collecting surface soil and drilling 2 meters (6 feet) into the ground to extract lunar rock samples for onward delivery to Earth. The probe has delivered the samples to the orbiting spacecraft and it may take off on its return journey to Earth in the next few days. The lander is built to stay in orbit for 14 Earth days or one moon day before unpleasant temperatures hamper its smooth operability, Space reports.
The surface soil and the underground rocks drilled by the Chang’e-5 probe is expected to provide clues into the history, evolution, and characteristics of the moon and its surrounding planets while also revealing the potentials of life forms in outer space. The probe is capable of capturing and transmitting color photos and videos of its activities back to Earth, and its radar can penetrate deep into the ground to analyze the lunar soil for signs of water, microbial life, and mineral resources.
When the spacecraft returns to Earth, it is expected to land in the northern Chinese territory of Inner Mongolia. Many of China’s spacecraft have always landed at this point following their return from space to Earth. The Chinese government looks forward to sending humans to the moon in the coming years, but they have not given a definite timeline for the crewed missions.
China interacts with NASA on its space programs, but the interaction is very limited due to the secretive way the Asian nation does things, but the country is trying to cooperate with the European Space Agency on some of her space programs.