Tuesday, June 04, 2024

China Chang'e-6 Moon Lander for Sample Return: Far Side South Pole Images

China Chang'e-6 Moon Lander for Sample Return: Far Side South Pole Images

Distant lunar mountains in South Pole-Aitken (SPA) Basin
Panorama of Chang'e-6 landing site in far side South Pole-Aitken (SPA) Basin
Panorama of Chang'e-6 landing site in far side in South Pole-Aitken (SPA) Basin
Close-up of Chang'e-6 lunar lander footpad
View of robotic arm for digging up surface samples
Detailed Moon surface view
View of Chang'e-6 lander from mini-lunar rover in far side South Pole-Aitken (SPA) Basin
Chang'e-6 lander unfurled and displayed a Chinese flag in lunar far side South Pole-Aitken (SPA) basin

The ascender of China's Chang'e-6 probe successfully lifted off from the Moon's surface on Tuesday morning, June 4, 2024, carrying samples collected from the Moon's far side south pole—an unprecedented feat in human lunar exploration history. The probe completed sampling using a drill and a robotic arm. The international scientific community now awaits the return of the samples to Earth.
The Chang'e-6 ascender took off at 07:38 Beijing time and entered a preset orbit around the Moon about six minutes later, said the China National Space Administration (CNSA).

The Chang'e-6 probe—consisting of an orbiter, a lander, an ascender and a returner, like its predecessor Chang'e-5—was launched on May 3, 2024.

After a month-long journey, its lander-ascender combination touched down at the designated landing area in the South Pole-Aitken (SPA) Basin on Sunday, June 2, 2024. 

The SPA basin (43°±2° south latitude, 154°±4° west longitude) 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.

The Chang'e-6 lander finished its intelligent and rapid sampling work, and the samples were securely stowed in a container inside the ascender of the probe as planned, the CNSA said.

During sampling and packaging, researchers conducted simulated sampling in a ground lab, based on the detection data sent back by the new Queqiao-2 lunar relay satellite, providing important support for science mission decision-making and operations at every stage.

"The mission has withstood the test of high temperatures on the far side of the Moon," the CNSA said.

Chang'e-6 adopted two methods of Moon sampling, including using a drill to collect subsurface samples and grabbing samples on the surface with a robotic arm. It automatically gathered diverse samples at different sites.

The multiple payloads installed on the lander, including the landing camera, panoramic camera, lunar soil structure detector and lunar mineral spectrum analyzer, worked well and carried out scientific exploration as planned, the CNSA said.

After the sampling was completed, a Chinese national flag carried by the lander was unfurled for the first time on the far side of the Moon.

The ascender will rendezvous and dock with the orbiter-returner combination and transfer the lunar samples to the returner. The combination will fly around the moon, waiting for the right time to return. Near the Earth, the returner will re-enter the atmosphere carrying the lunar samples. It is scheduled to land at the Siziwang Banner landing site in north China's Inner Mongolia region.

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.

Image Credit: China Lunar Exploration Program (CLEP)/China National Space Administration (CNSA)

Image Dates: June 3-4, 2024

#NASA #CNSA #ESA #Space #Astronomy #Science #China #中国 #Moon #Change6 #嫦娥六号 #LunarSampleReturn #FarSide #SouthPole #Queqiao2Satellite #SpaceTechnology #SpaceExploration #SolarSystem #InternationalCooperation #France #CNES #Italy #ASI #Sweden #History #STEM #Education

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