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People's Daily Online

China's Chang'e-5 lands on moon to retrieve samples

People's Daily Online

(Xinhua) 08:27, December 02, 2020

-- China's Chang'e-5 spacecraft successfully landed on the near side of the moon late Tuesday

-- The lander has carried out a series of status checks and settings, preparing for around 48 hours of work on the surface of the moon.

-- About 2 kg of samples are expected to be collected and sealed in a container.

-- Chang'e-5 will carry out an unmanned rendezvous and docking in a lunar orbit around 380,000 km away, a first in the history of space exploration. The orbiter is expected to carry the returner back to Earth.

BEIJING, Dec. 1 (Xinhua) -- China's Chang'e-5 spacecraft successfully landed on the near side of the moon late Tuesday and sent back images, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) announced.

At 11:11 p.m., the spacecraft landed at the preselected landing area near 51.8 degrees west longitude and 43.1 degrees north latitude, said the CNSA.

On Nov. 24, China launched the Chang'e-5 spacecraft, comprising an orbiter, a lander, an ascender and a returner.

At 10:57 p.m. Tuesday, the lander-ascender combination of Chang'e-5, from about 15 km above the lunar surface, started a powered descent with a variable thrust engine ignited. Its relative vertical velocity to the moon was lowered from 1.7 km per second to zero.

The probe was adjusted and approached the lunar surface during the descent.

After automatically detecting and identifying obstacles, the probe selected the site and touched down on the north of the Mons Rumker in Oceanus Procellarum, also known as the Ocean of Storms, on the near side of the moon.

During the landing process, the cameras aboard the lander took images of the landing area, said the CNSA.

Under ground-control, the lander carried out a series of status checks and settings, preparing for around 48 hours of work on the surface of the moon.

Scientific instruments installed on the lander include cameras to survey the landing site and sampling area, an infrared spectrometer to detect the material composition of the sampling area, and equipment to probe subsurface structure.

Chang'e-5 is the world's first moon-sample mission in more than 40 years, and Chinese space engineers have made elaborate plans for possible challenges ahead, said Peng Jing, deputy chief designer of the Chang'e-5 probe from the China Academy of Space Technology under the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.

"We designed two methods for the spacecraft to collect samples. One is to sample the lunar surface, and the other is to drill underground. The two methods could increase the chance of getting more diverse samples," said Peng.

About 2 kg of samples are expected to be collected and sealed in a container. Then the ascender will take off and dock with the orbiter-returner combination in orbit. After the samples are transferred to the returner, the ascender will separate from the orbiter-returner.

According to Peng, Chang'e-5 will carry out an unmanned rendezvous and docking in a lunar orbit around 380,000 km away, a first in the history of space exploration.

The orbiter is expected to carry the returner back to Earth. The returner is scheduled to reenter the atmosphere and land at Siziwang Banner in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

About 2 kg of samples are expected to be collected and sealed in a container. Then the ascender will take off and dock with the orbiter-returner combination in orbit. After the samples are transferred to the returner, the ascender will separate from the orbiter-returner.

According to Peng, Chang'e-5 will carry out an unmanned rendezvous and docking in a lunar orbit around 380,000 km away, a first in the history of space exploration.

The orbiter is expected to carry the returner back to Earth. The returner is scheduled to reenter the atmosphere and land at Siziwang Banner in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.



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