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Watch: China Probe Returns to Earth with Samples from the Far Side of the Moon

Photo-AFP

China's Chang'e-6 lunar probe successfully returned to Earth on Tuesday, landing in Inner Mongolia. This marks a historic achievement as China becomes the first nation to bring back samples from the far side of the moon. The reentry capsule touched down at 2:07 p.m. Beijing time, carrying lunar soil collected from the South Pole-Aitken Basin, an impact crater on the moon's far side.

The mission, launched on May 3 via a Long March 5 rocket from Hainan's Wenchang Satellite Launch Center, aimed to gather approximately 2 kilograms of lunar samples. While the exact quantity of returned samples hasn't been confirmed yet, both Chinese and international scientists eagerly anticipate analyzing them. These samples are expected to provide valuable insights into the formation of the Earth, moon, and the solar system.

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Chinese President Xi Jinping hailed the mission as a "landmark achievement" in China's space exploration endeavors. The success of Chang'e-6 not only enhances China's stature in space science but also intensifies its rivalry with the United States in lunar exploration. NASA has previously expressed concerns about China's growing capabilities in space exploration, emphasizing the competitive dynamics between the two global powers.

The European Space Agency (ESA) is collaborating with Chinese researchers on analyzing the samples, highlighting international cooperation despite geopolitical tensions between China and the European Union. Neil Melville-Kenney, a technical officer at ESA, underscored the scientific significance of studying the moon's far side, emphasizing its distinct geological composition and historical context.

 

Looking ahead, ESA plans to further discussions with the China National Space Administration to expand collaborative efforts in lunar exploration and scientific research. This ongoing collaboration, rooted in scientific curiosity and mutual benefit, reflects a shared commitment to advancing our understanding of the moon and beyond.

June 25, 2024 6:06 p.m. 478

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