If we can’t go to the Moon again, why not bring the Moon itself to Earth? That’s what Chinese astronomers seem to have in mind. For some reason, it’s a little too difficult to send humans on the Moon again as NASA did even half a century ago.
China’s state news agency called Xinhua announces that the country’s lunar probe known as Chang’e-5 is on its way back to Earth. The spacecraft had completed its second orbital maneuver and it’s carrying samples of rocks from the Moon’s surface.
When the probe returns to Earth in just several days, China will become the third country that brought Moon rocks back to our planet.
An audacious mission
Even NASA acknowledges the courage of the Chinese astronomers regarding the mission. David S. Draper, who is deputy chief scientist at NASA, declared for The New York Times the following:
This is a really audacious mission,
They’re going to move the ball down the field in a big way with respect to understanding a lot of things that are important about lunar history.
The lander’s ascender module left the Moon on December 3. It took off from our natural satellite before the Sun set, as the frigid temperatures of a lunar night were a bit too much to handle.
Dr Thomas Zurbuchen, who is top science official at NASA, also acknowledges the importance of China’s lunar mission, as cited by BBC:
When the samples collected on the Moon are returned to Earth, we hope everyone will benefit from being able to study this precious cargo that could advance the international science community.
The gathered lunar samples are expected to help scientists learn more about the volcanic activity from the Moon. They are also planning to calibrate a technique for estimating the age of craters from our natural satellite.