Lunar samples from far side of moon transferred to returner of Chang'e 6

2024-06-06 Editor : Mo Honge ECNS App Download

(ECNS) -- The ascender of China's Chang'e 6 probe docked with the orbiter-returner combination in lunar orbit at 2:48 p.m. (Beijing Time) on Thursday and the container carrying the lunar samples from the far side of the moon was transferred from the ascender to the returner safely by 3:24 p.m., according to the China National Space Administration (CNSA) announced. 

Photo provided to China News Service
China's Chang'e 6 probe works on the moon's surface. (Photo provided to China News Service)

After the moon-Earth transfer and separation of the orbiter and returner, the returner is expected to land with lunar samples at Siziwang Banner in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region as planned. 

Wang Qiong, deputy chief designer of the Chang'e 6 mission, said the lunar samples will be sealed in a container until it reaches Earth.

Wang noted that the most critical aspect of the process is ensuring that the lunar samples are unaffected by Earth's environment.

Sealing is extremely stringent, while upon returning to Earth the sample container must be opened in a nitrogen-filled environment to prevent contamination, he added.

Experts have noted that the samples from Chang'e 5 were obtained through both scooping and drilling methods.

The scooped samples provide information on the moon's uppermost layer of soil, while the drilled equivalents help reveal the moon's evolutionary history by studying its multi-layered structure.

Zhou Qin, deputy chief designer of the Chang'e 6 mission's ground application system, explained that the scooped samples are as fine as flour due to long-term space weathering effects and the impact of multiple impacts on the moon's surface. 

Within this powdery lunar regolith, staff have meticulously identified numerous tiny rock particles. These particles have been carefully selected for scientists to choose from.

The Chang'e-6 probe, comprising an orbiter, a lander, an ascender, and a returner, was launched on May 3. It displayed China's national flag and left a mark of Chinese character “Zhong” after taking the soil samples on the moon's surface.


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