China has successfully landed Chang’e-5 on the moon as part of its Lunar Exploration Programme. At the moment, there are no images of the machine landing, but it is a significant step for Chinese space ventures.
Last week, the Chang’e-5 was launched aboard China’s largest-ever rocket (the Long March-5) in a landmark mission. This mission is important to the country as it is the first time it has successfully landed machinery on the moon. The next stage in this mission will be the collection of samples from the surface of the moon and it seems that the module will have more challenges ahead.
It is hoped that the samples collected on this mission will give scientists insight into the geology of the moon as it has had conflicting finds. Some samples have been dated to 1.2 or 1.3 billion years old while others have been reported to be over 3 billion. With this in mind, it will be interesting to see if Chang’e-5 can uncover any more details about the natural satellite.
In a couple of days, the module will be leaving the moon and it seems this will be the most difficult part of the mission. The director of the Lunar Exploration and Space Engineering Centre at the China National Space Administration, Pei Zhaoyu, previously explained to The Guardian the challenged the module would face. Zhaoyu stated that the collection of materials ‘as well as the high-speed re-entry to Earth’ would be the hardest tasks for Chang’e-5.
Despite plenty of challenges ahead, this will be a landmark day for China and its future exploration of the moon. It seems that interest in the natural satellite is steadily increasing with NASA planning to put people back on its surface as well as water being fzxlound on it.
While the excitement around lunar ventures likely won’t lead to another space race, it is clear that plenty of countries are interested in analysing the moon.