China’s lunar probe is retrieving samples from the far side of the Moon


China’s Chang’e 6 spacecraft successfully landed on the far side of the Moon — and it plans to bring back soil and rock samples to Earth for the first time.

The probe touched down on the Moon’s South Pole–Aitken Basin, which faces away from Earth, at 6:23AM Beijing time, according to the China National Space Administration (CNSA). It used laser 3D scanning and an autonomous avoidance system to detect obstacles before landing. You can see the probe make its careful descent to the lunar surface in the video embedded below.

It will take the Chang’e 6 about two days to take the samples from the Moon’s surface using a scoop and drill. The probe is also carrying payloads from the European Space Agency, France, and Italy, which China’s space agency says “will work as planned and carry out scientific exploration missions.”

Once it’s finished collecting samples, the Chang’e 6 probe will launch a capsule containing the material into lunar orbit, where it will link up with the Chang’e 6 orbiter and return to Earth on June 25th.



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