Monday, June 03, 2024

French Scientists Celebrate China Chang'e-6's Historic Landing on Moon's Far Side

French Scientists Celebrate China Chang'e-6's Historic Landing on Moon's Far Side

A group of French scientists participating in China's Chang'e-6 mission celebrated the lunar probe's successful landing on the Moon's far side south pole, as it marked a major advance in lunar exploration and international collaboration.

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). 

Supported by the Queqiao-2 relay satellite, the Chang'e-6 probe made a historic touchdown in the South Pole-Aitken (SPA) Basin at 06:23 Beijing time on Sunday, June 2, 2024. This feat, achieved with the crucial support of the Queqiao-2 relay satellite, landed the probe in the South Pole-Aitken Basin, an area previously unseen from Earth.

The scientists declared the successful landing on the Moon's far side a monumental achievement in space exploration.

"Well, we have been thinking about this moment for years and even more intensely for the last few months, and weeks, and days. We were watching the Moon every night almost here in Beijing, and now we are there on the far side. So actually, it went very smoothly, also, it seems that everything went perfectly," said Pierre-Yves Meslin, chief scientist of Research Institute in Astrophysics and Planetology.

"It's hard to land on a planet. It's very hard, especially on the Moon. Don't think it's easy, okay? And what I've seen today seems to have worked absolutely perfectly. They landed right where they wanted to. And remember, it's on the far side of the Moon. It's not the Moon we can see; it's the other side. And for that, they had to put a relay. So, there was another satellite to watch the landing because we cannot see it. So, it's quite an achievement, something we've been looking for for so many years," explained Sylvestre Maurice, professor of Research Institute in Astrophysics and Planetology.

The successful landing was captured in a video released by the China National Space Administration (CNSA), showcasing the lander-ascender combination of Chang'e-6 touching down.

"It's a very moving time for me because, as a young boy, I had the opportunity [when] I was 10 years old to see Neil Armstrong landing on the Moon from TV, as a kid. And this is my very first landing in a control room on the Moon. And I see it from China on the far side. This is something very impressive. It is just 55 years later. But it means that a lot of things have evolved through time, and we are absolutely stunned by what has been done today. But again, it's only a start," reflected Patrick Pinet, professor of Research Institute in Astrophysics and Planetology.

Chang'e-6, consisting of an orbiter, a returner, a lander, and an ascender, has successfully completed a series of critical stages since its launch on May 3. These include Earth-Moon transfer, near-Moon braking, lunar orbiting, and landing descent.

The lander-ascender combination separated from the orbiter-returner on May 30, according to the CNSA.

With the probe scheduled to complete sampling within two days using a drill and a robotic arm, the scientific community awaits further results from this groundbreaking mission.

Video Credit: China Central Television (CCTV) Video News Agency

Duration: 2 minutes, 15 seconds

Release Date: June 3, 2024

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