Video: A Chinese probe grabs part of the moon – the first in more than 40 years

China has released a video showing the exciting moment as the Chang’e 5 probe makes a great landing to collect the first lunar samples after a hiatus of more than 40 years.

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The entire device, both the landing / take-off module itself (probe) and the service module, which remains in orbit around the moon, arrived there on November 28. The divorce took place on the same day.

Accelerated (time lapseThe video shows the landing made by the landing / takeoff module on December 1. Since the Moon is currently 380 thousand kilometers away and it takes two seconds to reject a signal from Earth to the Moon and back, adjustments would be made with a delay, which could determine the outcome in such a subtle operation – success or failure. So, of course, the entire landing process was fully automated. Chang’e 5 used a gamma altimeter to determine the distance to the surface, as well as optical and laser systems to determine if there were any obstacles in the landing area.

The last time the lunar samples were taken was in 1976, when the USSR probe “Luna 24” worked, but the largest number of lunar samples in the late 1960s and early 1970s was obtained by NASA – “Apollo” flights were allowed approximately To transport 382 kilograms of moon rocks to our planet, pebbles, regolith and dust.

Of course, the Apollo missions are very different from other lunar missions – they are the only ones where humans have landed on the surface of the Earth satellite, which, among other things, could collect and return such a large sample. Chang’e is a robotic probe, so the targets are of course more modest – China expects two to four kilograms of material.

The published video also shows how the sampling process itself takes place, with the probe’s robotic “hand” both collecting material from the surface and drilling near a structure known as “Mons Rümker” that was once the result of volcanic activity. activity.

When the planned volume has been collected, the launch module will restart from the surface of the moon and leave the landing module behind. In orbit around the moon, he must meet and connect to the service module before starting the return journey. Once in orbit, valuable specimens will make a fiery path through Earth’s atmosphere in a durable capsule. As things go according to plan, scientists will be among the first “freshly collected” lunar samples in more than 40 years. This could happen in mid-December.
One of the reasons why this site was chosen for the well is the mentioned formation “Mons Rümker”, which attests to the volcanic activity that took place at this site. The samples will provide a better understanding of why this area was geologically active long after volcanic activity in most other areas on the Moon had long since subsided.

“Chang’e 5” isn’t the only mission that could surprise scientists this year with extraordinarily valuable research material – the return of the Japanese probe “Hayabusa2” is scheduled for Earth this weekend (artist illustration below). This probe was launched in 2014, but in the summer of 2018, samples were taken from the near-Earth asteroid “Ryugu”.

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