12/17/2020, 09.20
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China’s Chang'e 5 returns loaded with moonstones

The spacecraft made landfall in Inner Mongolia.  2-4 kg of rocks and lunar debris dating back to about 1.2-1.3 billion years ago collected. The find will add new information on the origin of the Earth's satellite and the solar system. Xi Jinping: There will be more space explorations.

Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The re-entry module of the Chang'e 5 space mission landed this morning in Inner Mongolia, carrying samples of lunar rocks for scientific research, announced Chinese state media.

The spacecraft took off on November 24 from the Wenchang base on the island of Hainan. A robot separated from the orbiting section and landed on December 1st. It should have collected between 2 and 4 kg of soil and debris in the volcanic zone of Mons Rümker (Oceanus Procellarum), transporting it to Earth.

The return capsule detached from the mothership and "sailed" into the atmosphere, then decelerated with a parachute and touched ground in the Siziwang Banner area. A recovery unit then intervened to secure the transported material.

China is the third country, after the United States and Russia, to come into possession of lunar rocks, useful for learning about the origin and history of the solar system. The last to accomplish the feat were the Soviets in 1976, collecting just under 200 kg of material. The samples recovered by the Russians and the Americans date back to about three billion years ago; those now in possession of the Chinese are more recent (1.2-1.3 billion): the find may add new information on the structure of the moon and the origin of the solar system.

Saluting the success of the lunar mission, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced more space explorations. Beijing has long since embarked on this effort. Last year one of its probes landed on the hidden part of the Earth's satellite; in July it launched a robot ship to reach Mars. The Chinese Space Centre plans to have a permanent space station from 2022 and to have its own astronaut arrive on the moon.

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