China's Chang & # 39; e-5 lunar lander took around 1.7 kilograms of samples from the moon, according to the Chinese National Space Agency (CNSA). The Chang & # 39; e-5 sample recovery capsule landed in the Inner Mongolia region of China on December 16, 2020 and successfully completed a 23-day odyssey that brought back the first lunar rocks since 1976.
CNSA released the Chang & # 39; e-5 samples to the Lunar Sampling Laboratory of the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences on December 19. Chinese scientists are currently performing detailed analyzes of the samples.
In a press release, officials said they plan to share some of the lunar material with other countries for collaborative scientific research. CNSA said it will "publish the relevant guidelines for the moon samples collected by Chang & # 39; e-5 to coordinate and promote scientific research, encourage more scientists at home and abroad to participate, and achieve more scientific achievement ".
The staff are taking care of the capsule containing the lunar samples returned from the Chang & # 39; e 5 mission. Photo credit: Xinhua
Whether or not US scientists receive an allotment of samples depends on a change in US policy that restricts collaboration between NASA and China's space program. Read more about the debate in our previous article on the Chang & # 39; e-5 launch.
The mission made China a third country after the United States and Russia, which successfully returned samples from the moon. The last samples returned in 1976 were from the Luna 24 robotic mission of the Soviet Union.
China's Long March 5 rocket sends the Chang & # 39; e-5 probe to the moon and back on the first leg of its mission. (CNSA / CLEP Photo)
Chang'e-5 was launched on November 24, 2020, and after a week of transit, the spacecraft's orbiter sent a lander to the lunar surface on December 1. The lander collected samples from the near side of the moon in Oceanus Procellarum, or Ocean of Storms, east of a volcanic plateau called Mons Rümker. The sample container can hold up to two kilograms of rock and dirt.
Officials said studying the lunar samples will help increase scientific understanding of how the universe was formed and evolved, and that CNSA will also run programs to popularize public science and cultural exchanges related to the mission.
The soot-striped sample return capsule from Chang & # 39; e-5 is located in the middle of the snow of Inner Mongolia, near which a Chinese flag is placed. (Image via CCTV)
The Chang & # 39; e-5 mission took place after successful landings of Chinese spaceships on the moon in 2013 and 2019. The Chang & # 39; e-4 landing in 2019 marked the first soft landing of a spacecraft on the other side of the moon.
China's next lunar mission, Chang & # 39; e-6, will attempt to return samples from the south pole region of the moon in 2023.