Chinese lunar exploration mission departed on November 23th, and its main job is no snag about 2kg of lunar material, 44 years after soviet mission Luna 24. Chang’E 5 will come back mid-december
Seventh chinese lunar mission
Chinese mission Chang’E 5 (Chang’E is the Chinese goddess of the Moon) could bring back the first lunar dirt since soviet mission Luna 24 (or Lunik 24) who, in August 1976, who returned on Earth with 170 grams of lunar samples.
Chang’E 5 is the successor of chinese circumlunar missions Chang’E 1 (in 2007) and Chang’E 2 (In 2010), two mars rovers (Chang’E 3 and Chang’E 4 in 2013 and 2018 respectively) , the sample return mission Chang’E 5-T1 in 2014 ; and the launching of a communication satellite, Quequiao, in 2014.
For this mission, the aim is to carry out an ambitious collection of soil samples, using a robotic shovel and a drill capable of coring to a depth of 2 m, before bringing the material back to Earth: the hope is to provide scientists with no less than 2 kg of regolith!
Heaviest interplanetary probe
With a flight weighing of... 8.2 t (including 3.8 t for the lander), Chang'E 5 is the heaviest interplanetary probe in history.
It is equipped with a panoramic camera, ground-penetrating radar and and infrared spectrometer.
The mission started on 23 November at 20:30 UTC from the Wenchang Space Centre on the island of Hainan. It was entrusted to China's most powerful launcher, the Long March 5, which was used this summer to send the Tianwen 1 probe to Mars.
The first part of yesterday's flight, from liftoff to translucent injection, was broadcast live on Chinese state television and on countless social networks, filmed from every angle using several onboard cameras.
It was partly followed by the antenna in Kourou, French Guiana, which was used under an agreement between the European Space Agency and the Chinese Space Agency.
Near November 30, after a few orbits around the Moon, the Chang'E 5 lunar landing module should land in the region of Mount Rümker, west of the visible side.
The collection will have to start quickly, as the probe will have to operate for only one lunar day to benefit from the Sun's illumination, i.e. 14 Earth days.
In addition, the lander is equipped with a panoramic camera, ground-penetrating radar and and infrared spectrometer.
The collected samples will be stored in a small sealed container, which will be installed in the Chang'E 5 lift stage.
The Chang'E 5 will then travel to the service module stationed in lunar orbit, where it will transfer its precious cargo to the return capsule.
The service module will then begin the return journey back to Earth, releasing the capsule just before re-entry for a landing in Inner Mongolia around December 16.
This scenario is obviously reminiscent of the American lunar missions of the Apollo programme...