China has successfully landed an investigation on the moon. There, the infamous Chang-5 will prepare for the collection of the first lunar samples since the Soviet Union’s Luna 24 mission in 1976. Here’s what you need to know:
Why did China go to the moon?
Beijing wants to become a space superpower alongside the United States and Russia, the only two countries to have collected lunar samples so far.
President Xi Jinping hopes to launch a permanent space station called Tiangang (Palace of Heaven) in early 2022 – and send astronauts to the moon as part of the country’s “space dream”. The first prototype, the Tiang-1, was launched in 2011 and completed its mission before China lost control of the craft, and it crashed into the sea in 2018-2018. A space laboratory called Tiangang-2 was launched in 2016 and a controlled re-entry. 2019.
As part of China’s space plan, it launched a new rocket and prototype spacecraft called Long March 5B in May. China hopes that a one-day craft like this will take six crew members to the space station.
The Chang-5 mission provides an opportunity to test equipment and methods before the next Tiang episode.
What will the moon rock be used for?
The search is expected to collect 2kg of material – dust and debris – which will help scientists learn about the moon’s origins, structure and its surface in volcanic activity, AFP reported.
Xiao Long, a planetary geologist at the Chinese University of Geosciences in Ohan, told Nature that the samples could “rewrite the history of the moon” if they show that the lunar surface was still volcanic 1bn-2bn years ago. This activity ceased about 3.5bn years ago, according to the nature of the previous lunar material.
Moon dust is also a very strange thing and understanding it is important for the future of space exploration. If you want to know more, this wired article, “Why Moon Dust Can Make Our Moon’s Ambitions Cloudy” is worth reading.
Investigate how lunar samples will be collected?
Chang-1, named after the Chinese moon goddess, is decorated with landers and riders. These are now separated from the rest of the craft and touched by the 1.3-kilometer-high Mons Ramkar, a volcanic region of the undiscovered part before the ocean Procelararam (the ocean of storms), the dark spots forming the head of the moon rabbits we see from Earth. This spot is considered to be one of the most active volcanic areas on the moon.
Next, the craft will drill two meters into the ground, scoop up the lunar element, save it to climb to the top of the craft, and rise to the top. It will then dock with other orbiting spacecraft, where the samples will be transferred before the ascending vehicle jetties.
The spacecraft will then re-enter Earth’s atmosphere and parachute into the Inner Mongolia region of northern China.
How long will this mission take?
Chang-5 must complete its mission within one lunar day, equivalent to 14 days on Earth, so that it cannot withstand much of the moon’s overnight temperature.
What could be wrong?
Clive Neal, a geologist at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, told Nature that the lander could crash, overtake, or fall as the specimens moved. The spacecraft will still have to travel to Inner Mongolia later this month to simply return to Earth.