China is preparing to follow up on its daring Chang’e 5 lunar sample return mission by sending similar spacecraft to collect materials from the Aitken Antarctic Basin (SPA) on the opposite side of the moon.
China launched Chang’e 5 in November last year and recovered a return capsule 23 days later, which contained the youngest moon rock sample ever collected. The mission backup, Chang’e-6, is now preparing for a more challenging sampling attempt on the opposite side of the moon in 2024.
Hu Hao, chief engineer of the China Center for Space Engineering and Lunar Exploration, issued a statement on China’s National Space Day in April this year, Aitken Basin (SPA), Antarctica. The SPA Basin is a huge ancient impact crater, about 1,550 miles (2,500 kilometers) in diameter, covering nearly a quarter of the far side of the moon. According to a new report,
, considered the oldest impact basin on the moon, contains important clues about the history of the moon and the solar system.
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Previously, the National Academy of Sciences proposed a similar mission for the SPA basin as his vision and travel priority research interest “Planetary Science Decade Report 2013-2022” published in 2011.
China’s Chang’e 4 lander and Yutu 2 Mars rover landed on the back of the moon for the first time in 2019, and are currently exploring and returning to the landing zone. The data is in Von Crater Kármán in the SPA basin.
But being able to analyze the rocks in this area of ​​the Earth will help determine the age of the giant impact basin and provide insights into the history of the formation of the moon.
The Chinese authorities did not disclose the exact landing location in the SPPA Basin, which extends 18 degrees south from Aitken Crater to the south pole of the moon and contains many large craters, such as Apollo, which can provide a flat surface. But it’s interesting. Landing zone.
Related: Lunar Timeline: Human Exploration of the Moon
China’s Chang’e 5 lunar lander deployed a cloth flag on December 3, 2020.
China’s Chang’e-5 lunar lander deployed a small cloth flag on December 3, 2020. (Image source: CNSA / CLEP) Mission
Chang’e 6 will also carry some payloads from international partners. France will provide a detection instrument called DORN to study the element radon and how it releases gas from the lunar weathering layer.
The Italian National Institute of Nuclear Physics (INFN) will provide a laser retroreflector, an instrument used to reflect light back to its source, allowing scientists to measure the time required for a trip and convert the information into a precise distance. . All Apollo 11, 14 and 15 missions carry laser range retroreflectors. Hu Hao said in the statement that another 4,444 contributions from Russia and Sweden were initially selected. The joint Sino-Russian instrument will investigate the possible presence of icy water on the surface, while Sweden’s contribution will focus on the detection of negative ions.
Chang’e 5 is China’s first lunar sample mission after the Chang’e 1 and 2 orbiters and the landers and rover of the Chang’e 3 and 4 missions. Chang’e-6 was included as an initial part of a joint project to establish an international lunar research station with Russia.
The back of the moon will never face the earth, so Chang’e-6 needs to use relay satellites outside the moon to communicate with the earth. This is caused by tidal obstruction, which occurs when the planet’s gravity slows the moon’s rotation speed, so that the time required for the moon to rotate is the same as the time it takes to orbit its planet. The Queqiao satellite played this relay role for Change-4 and could also assist Chang’e-6.

By Peter

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