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China lands on the “far side” of the Moon

June 2 (UPI) — After a month-long journey, a Chinese spacecraft has landed on the far side of the Moon, the China National Space Administration announced.

Chinese Space Administration officials said they intend to collect rocks and soil from the notoriously hard-to-reach region of the lunar surface for the first time in history, CNSA said.

“Everyone is very excited that we will be able to look at these rocks that no one has ever seen before,” Professor John Pernet-Fisher, who specializes in lunar geology at the University of Manchester, told the BBC.

“Applause broke out at the Beijing Aerospace Flight Control Center” when the Chang’e landing craft landed on the Moon early Sunday morning, Chinese state television said.

Chinese space scientists landed the Chang’e 6 spacecraft in a crater known as the Apollo Basin. “The choice was made based on the potential value of the Apollo Basin for scientific exploration, as well as the conditions of the landing zone, including communications and telemetry conditions and the flatness of the terrain,” he said. said Huang Hao, a space expert from China Aerospace Science. and Technology Corp.

Huang said the rugged terrain on the far side of the Moon makes navigation more difficult than on the front or near side, and has fewer flat surfaces that lend themselves to a successful landing. This also reduces the windows for communicating with the unmanned craft.

The craft hovered about 300 feet above the moon’s surface, scanning it with 3D technology before landing. Chinese space officials called the landing a “historic moment.”

Chang’e 6 will now begin a three-day exploration of the lunar surface, gathering equipment in a mission that the CNSA said would include “many technical innovations, high risks and great difficulty.”

Most importantly, Chang’e 6 will seek to mine some of the oldest known rocks existing on the lunar south pole.

Pernet-Fisher said the ability to analyze rocks and other objects from a completely different part of the Moon could answer fundamental questions about planet formation.

Most of the rocks collected so far are volcanic, similar to those you might find in Iceland or Hawaii, he said. But the material on the far side would have a different chemistry.

“It would help us answer these really big questions, like how do planets form, why do crusts form, what is the origin of water in the solar system?” » said Pernet-Fisher.

China is the only country to have already placed a module on the back side of the Moon, having first done so with its Chang’e 4 spacecraft in 2019.


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