06-4-2024, 5:42 PM

China's lunar probe returns samples to Earth while flying a flag on the moon's far side

Chang'e 6 - Video Screenshot

China has successfully landed a spacecraft on the far side of the moon. In a historic moment before launch, China reportedly became the first country to display its national flag on this side of the moon, which is always facing away from Earth.

Launched last month, the Chang'e-6 probe's lander touched down on the far side of the moon on Sunday. The ascender took off on Tuesday morning at 7:38 a.m. Beijing time, with its engine firing for about six minutes to enter a preset orbit around the moon, according to the China National Space Administration (CNSA).

CNSA officials stated that the Chang’e-6 probe landed in the South Pole-Aitken Basin crater, which formed over 4 billion years ago and is believed to be the moon’s oldest crater. This crater is approximately 1,500 miles in diameter and about eight miles deep. The probe collected lunar soil samples through drilling and other collection methods.

Officials explained that the samples were transferred to a specific container within the probe. The spacecraft departed early Tuesday morning to return to Earth. The collected samples will be placed in a capsule on the spacecraft, which is expected to be deployed upon entering Earth’s atmosphere and is anticipated to land in China’s Inner Mongolia desert toward the end of June.

This mission marks China's second successful collection of lunar samples, following the Chang’e-5 mission which brought back samples from the near side of the moon in 2020.

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