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China Lands on the Far Side of the Moon

In a historic landing, China will attempt to bring back samples from the dark side of the Moon
Video of Chang’e 6 landing on the Moon
Source: Shujianyang
Mockup of the Chang’e 5 lander

In the early hours of June 2, 2024, the Chinese Chang’e 6 lander touched down on the dark side of the Moon. This success marks the second time China has landed on the far side of the Moon, and the second time any country has landed there. The lander’s main mission is to retrieve samples from the far side, and bring them back to Earth, in the first ever attempt to do so on the dark side of the Moon. If the mission is successful, it will give China and humanity as a whole key insights into the Moon’s history and the solar system’s formation.

Chang’e 6 launched from China’s Wenchang Satellite Launch Center aboard a Long March 5 rocket on May 3, 2024, and entered lunar orbit about a week later. Once in orbit, the lander waited for the signal to land, and landed earlier today on June 2, 2024. It’s landing zone was the South Pole-Aitken Basin, a massive impact crater measuring 2,500 kilometers wide and over 4 billion years old. It is the oldest of any craters of it’s type on the Moon, and may provide valuable information about the Moon, and about the solar system at large.

While on the Moon, Chang’e aims to collect 2 kilograms of lunar samples to bring back to Earth. Once the lander has collected the samples, it will transfer them to a booster-equipped module on the top of the probe, and launch it to a satellite orbiting the Moon. Once on the orbiting satellite, it will be sent back to Earth, arriving around June 25, and land in the Inner Mongolia region of China, where the samples can be retrieved for further study. These samples would be extremely valuable in helping to study the dark side of the Moon, which has not been studied nearly as much as the near-Earth side, and would provide valuable insight into the Moon’s formation.

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