Chinese probe aimed at retrieving moon rocks in decades
- Chang'e 5 will be launched on Monday 3:25 pm Eastern Time-- Tuesday in China
- The missoin will collect rocks and soil from moon for a probe into its geological history
- It is expected to be back on earth by December 16-17
A Chinese lunar explorer is all set to become the first such mission to be bringing lunar rocks back on earth in about 40 years. The mission will be launched on Monday 3:25 pm Eastern Time.
The unmanned mission, called Chang'e-5, will be launched from the Wenchang Space Launch Center on Hainan Island in China for the expedition, during which it will collect rocks and soil for further probe in the age and geological makeup of the only natural satellite of earth.
“Chang'e 5 is China's robotic lunar sample return mission, which is set to bring back at least 2 kg of lunar soils and rock samples. The probe will perform a soft landing on the Moon, then rendezvous and dock with the return module in lunar orbit and fly back to Earth,” said Spacelaunch, a website that tracks space launches from across the globe.
The mission is one of the series of exploratory mission being launched by the China National Space Administration (CNSA). The agency had sent another mission last year January to the far side of the moon, something that was never been done before.
The Chang’e 5 mission will collect rocks over a period of one lunar day, which is equivalent to 14 days here on earth. The mission is important because rocks and soil from the moon can give a rare insight into the actual age of the satellite and into the period when the volcanoes were active last.
“The samples will mostly be stored at the Chinese Academy of Sciences National Astronomical Observatory of China in Beijing. It's not clear whether the samples will leave the country for outside research,” NPR reported.
If successful, the Chinese explorer will be one of the three countries to have brought back rocks from the moon. The US and the then USSR performed the feat in the 1960s and 70s – a protracted period generally marked by a ‘space war’ between the two countries.
The explorer, named after a Chinese goddess, is expected to return to earth around December 16-17. This is the first sample collection mission from China.