Thursday, May 09, 2024

Key Factors for China's Chang'e-6 Far Side Moon Polar Landing Site Revealed

Key Factors for China's Chang'e-6 Far Side Moon Polar Landing Site Revealed

China's Chang'e-6 lunar probe is the first human mission designed to collect and return samples from the far side of the Moon to Earth. Chang'e-6 arrived in lunar orbit on May 7, 2024. The landing location must consider the scientific significance and the engineering challenges involved. The Chang'e-6 lander relies on solar panels for power generation. Therefore, engineers must take into account the solar illumination available on the far side of the Moon to ensure mission success.

Chang'e-6's pre-selected landing area is located in the southern part of the Apollo basin in the South Pole–Aitken (SPA) basin (43°±2° south latitude, 154°±4° west longitude). The SPA basin is a large impact crater on the far side of the Moon. At roughly 2,500 km (1,600 mi) in diameter and between 6.2 and 8.2 km (3.9–5.1 mi) deep, it is the largest, oldest, and deepest basin recognized on the Moon.

"Our spacecraft depends on solar illumination for power generation, and this illumination varies with latitude. For this mission, we have selected a landing site in a region with moderate latitude. We chose the South Pole-Aitken Basin due to its adequate solar illumination and reliable communication signals, meeting the engineering standards," said Lu Yuntong, an engineer of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC).

"Globally, more than ten missions collecting and returning samples have been conducted from the near side of the Moon. However, there may exist even more ancient lunar soil on the far side. Thus, whatever samples we collect from the Moon's far side hold high scientific significance," said Lu.

The Chang'e-6 mission features scientific payloads from France, Italy, Sweden, and Pakistan. The international scientific payloads carried by the Chang'e-6 mission include the French radon gas detector (CNES), the European Space Agency/Swedish ion analyzer, and the Italian laser corner reflector (Agenzia Spaziale Italiana), as well as the Pakistani ICUBE-Q cube satellite. The mission will last about 53 days. 

In 2020, Chang'e-5 was the first lunar sample-return mission since the Soviet Union's Luna 24 in 1976. The mission made China the third country to return samples from the Moon after the United States and the Soviet Union.

Video Credit: China Central Television (CCTV)

Duration: 1 minute

Release Date: May 9, 2024

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