KOMPAS.com – Robot Chang’e 5 belong China launched from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Hainan province by using a Long March 5 rocket towards the moon at around 4:30 WIB this morning, Monday (11/24/2020).
Robot Chang’e 5 plans to transport samples of the moon and return to Earth in mid-December.
This was the first mission not undertaken since the USSR’s Luna 24 mission in 1976.
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The spacecraft weighing 8,200 kilograms is likely to arrive in lunar orbit on November 28. It will then send two of its four modules, the lander and the vehicle of the climber, to the lunar surface a day or two later.
Chinese officials did not elaborate on the details of Chang’e 5.
Reported Live Science, Tuesday (11/24/2020), information so far revealed that the mission would land in the Mons Rumker area of the Oceanus Procellarum (Ocean of Storms) volcanic plain, part of which has been explored by a number of other missions, including NASA’s Apollo 12 in 1969.
The Chang’e 5 lander will study its environment with a camera, ground-penetrating radar and spectrometer.
But his main task is to carry about 2 kilograms of material of the moon, some of which will be dug up to 2 meters underground.
The work will be carried out over two weeks, or one lunar day, given the Chang’e 5 lander is solar powered and will not be able to operate once night falls on its location.
Mons Rumker stores rocks that formed about 1.2 billion years ago.
This means that Chang’e 5 will help scientists understand what happened at the end of lunar history, as well as how the Earth and the solar system evolved.
The 382-kilogram moonstone that Apollo astronauts took home between 1969 and 1972, which has given a glimpse into the moon’s past, will also be returned to the Chang; e mission.
The Chang’e 5 lander will return the sample in a climbing vehicle, which will launch it into lunar orbit to encounter two other mission elements, the service module and the attached Earth return capsule.
The lunar material will be loaded onto the return capsule, which the service module will transport back to Earth, releasing it shortly before a landing scheduled for December 16 or December 17.
“While human-rated vehicles such as NASA’s Apollo capsule rely solely on strong thermal shielding, the Chang’e 5 will perform a skip reentry, bouncing from the atmosphere once to slow down before crashing onto a landing in Inner Mongolia,” wrote the Planetary Society.
“The landing site is the same as the one used by the Shenzhou (China) manned spacecraft.”
Chang’e 5, China‘s first sample return attempt, is the sixth and most ambitious mission in the Chang’e robotic lunar exploration program, which is named after the moon goddess in Chinese mythology.
China launched the Chang’e 1 and Chang’e 2 orbiters in 2007 and 2010, respectively, and the Chang’e 3 rover rover duo landed on the near side of the moon in December 2013.
The Chang’e 5T1 mission launched a prototype back capsule on an eight-day tour around the moon in October 2014, to help prepare for the Chang’e 5.
In January 2019, Chang’e 4 became the first successful mission to land on the far side of the moon. Chang’e 4 landers and explorers are still strong, as are Chang’e 3 landers.
To note, the explorer Chang’e 3 died after 31 months of working on the lunar surface.
The Chang’e 5 is part of a recent spike in sample return missions.
On December 6, for example, chunks of the Ryugu asteroid collected by the Japanese Hayabusa2 mission are scheduled to land in Australia.
Then the NASA OSIRIS-REx probe caught samples of the asteroid Bennu last month. If it goes according to plan, it will return to Earth in September 2023.