Chinese spacecraft takes off from the Moon with first samples of the far side of the Moon: Xinhua

Chinese spacecraft takes off from the Moon with first samples of the far side of the Moon: Xinhua

Chinese spacecraft takes off from the Moon with first samples of the far side of the Moon: Xinhua
This image taken from a video animation at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center (BACC) on June 2, 2024 shows the combined lander and ascent module of the Chang’e-6 probe landing on the far side of the moon . (Xinhua/Jin Liwang)

BEIJING, June 4 (Xinhua) — China’s Chang’e-6 probe ascender lifted off from the lunar surface on Tuesday morning, carrying samples collected from the far side of the Moon, an unprecedented feat in history of human lunar exploration.

The ascender has entered a pre-arranged orbit around the Moon, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) said.

The Chang’e-6 probe, composed of an orbiter, lander, ascender and return module, like its predecessor Chang’e-5, was launched on May 3. Its lander-ascendant combination landed in the designated landing area. in the South Pole-Aitken (SPA) basin on June 2.

The spacecraft completed its clever and rapid sampling work and the samples were stored in a container inside the probe’s ascender as planned, the CNSA said.

During sampling and packaging, researchers conducted simulated sampling in a ground laboratory, based on detection data sent by the Queqiao-2 relay satellite, providing important support for decision-making and operations on each link.

“The mission has withstood the test of high temperatures on the far side of the Moon,” said the CNSA.

It adopted two lunar sampling methods, including using a drill to collect subsurface samples and taking samples on the surface with a robotic arm. Automatically collected various samples at different sites.

The multiple payloads installed on the lander, including the landing camera, panoramic camera, lunar soil structure detector, and lunar mineral spectrum analyzer, performed well and carried out scientific exploration as planned. said the CNSA.

The lunar soil structure detector analyzed and judged the underground lunar soil structure of the sampling area, providing reference data for sample drilling.

Once the sampling was completed, a Chinese national flag carried by the lander was displayed for the first time on the far side of the Moon.

Unlike takeoff on Earth, the ascender could not rely on a launch tower system. The lander acted as a temporary “launch pad.”

The liftoff of Chang’e-6 ascender from the far side of the Moon cannot copy the rise of Chang’e-5 from the near side of the Moon, since it cannot directly receive ground control and support. It used its special sensors to achieve autonomous positioning and guidance, assisted by Queqiao-2 for communication.

Compared with Chang’e-5, Chang’e-6 has seen improvements in the autonomy and reliability of its navigation, guidance and control system, to meet the challenges posed by the uncertainties of the far side of the Moon during takeoff. and promotion. said Qiao Dezhi, a space expert with the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC).

Chang’e-6’s control system has also been upgraded to improve its autonomy, allowing it to complete lunar takeoff and ascent with less dependence on the Queqiao-2 relay satellite and ground support, said Huang Hao, another space expert at the CASC. .