China has become the latest country to make a successful lunar touchdown on Tuesday. As part of its ambitious mission to bring back lunar rocks, China has sent its Chang’e 5 spacecraft and ascender vehicle, which has now landed near the peak of a mountain called Mons Rumker in Oceanus Procellarum region of the moon.
After the touchdown, the lander will start drilling as deep as 6.6 feet to collect moon rocks and use a robotic arm to collect 2 kgs of surface samples. These surface samples will be stored in protective capsules for two weeks. After two weeks, the mission will return to earth in mid-December and land in northern region of Inner Mongolia in China. The orbiter, in the meanwhile , will orbit around the moon and wait for the lander to complete the process of sampling.
While Chang 5 mission is China’s first attempt to sample lunar rocks, Russia, US and former Soviet Mission have also attempted to retrieve lunar samples. The first mission to bring lunar samples to earth was conducted by Russian spacecraft Luna 24 on August 18, 1976 followed by US’s Apollo programme.
Speaking about choosing the specific landing location, CNSA had earlier said that the scientists went ahead with this location as the geological age of the landing area is about 3.7 billion years old and this can help them gain a comprehensive understanding of the formation and evolution of moon. Moreover, the latitude of the sampling point was selected considering factors like solar light intensity and temperature.