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China is preparing for a mission to collect material from the moon

Chang’e-5 is scheduled to be launched from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Hainan Province between 4-5 a.m. local time on Tuesday. The mission was named after the Chinese goddess of the moon.

Long March-5 launch missile carrying Chang’e-5 missiles Four units Official Chinese media reported that the probe, boarding vehicle, service capsule and return capsule began the refueling process on Monday.

The lander is scheduled to land in an area called Oceanus Procellarum and stay on the moon for one lunar day – equivalent to roughly two weeks on Earth.

Once there, he will try to dig about seven feet into the ground, then move the collected material upward. According to NASA, Then the riser anchors onto the serving capsule, at which point the samples will be transported to the return capsule. That capsule will then return to Earth, where it is expected to land in Inner Mongolia early next month. The mission objective is to collect about 4.5 pounds of material for research.

Jack Singall, an assistant professor of physics at the University of Richmond, said the mission, if successful, would allow scientists to determine the history of rocks and volcanic activity directly from the collection site. Then he said that calibrating the age according to crater density could pave the way “to give us a better treatment of dating rocks on the surface of the Moon and other rocky objects,” including Mercury and Mars.

The endeavor is the latest in China’s ambitious plans to expand its space research, and it is another competing aspect of the relationship between the United States and China.

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In July, China launched its Tianwen-1 mission, the country’s first attempt to land a rover on Mars. NASA launched the Mars mission, called Perseverance, next week. The United Arab Emirates also launched an orbiter to Mars that month.

In January 2019, China became the first country Landing successfully Spacecraft on the far side of the moon. On that mission, called Chang’e-4, the spacecraft landed in the Von Kármán Crater, in the Antarctic Aitken Basin. The China National Space Administration said the landing “marks a new chapter in moon and space exploration for the human race.”

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstein described the landing as “the first human achievement and an impressive feat.”

China’s mission comes as NASA, as part of its Artemis program, is pushing to return astronauts to the surface of the Moon for the first time since 1972. The Trump administration has raised the timeline for NASA from 2028 to 2024, saying it needs to move in shape. Urgent. .

NASA hopes to create a permanent presence on and around the moon by building a space station it calls a gateway that will remain in orbit around the moon and be used as a road station for astronauts and cargo.

However, it seems unlikely that NASA will be able to meet the ambitious schedule of the White House. And while it appears that under the Biden administration, NASA will maintain the Artemis program, the timeline will stick more closely to the original 2028 date.

Meanwhile, NASA is seeking to send a series of scientific missions to the surface of the moon, including the rover that will search for water on the moon’s south pole by 2023.

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China has it Dramatically accelerated Its space missions in recent years, after an astronaut was launched for the first time into space in 2003, decades after US astronauts landed on the moon in 1969. The last mission to China was originally scheduled to be in 2017, but was delayed after the Long launch failed March-5.

Singhal said the latest mission is “a mission on a scale appropriate for an emerging space force.”

He added that the proximity of the moon means that if China succeeds, it can “achieve some results and win quickly.”

Christian Davenport contributed to this report.

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