The Chinese Chang’e 5 mission marked the end of a 44-year period without a sample-return mission to the Moon. Watch the entire Moon landing in this fascinating video released by the China National Space Administration.
A spectacular video from China’s Chang’e 5 lander spacecraft revealsits successful touchdown on the moon as it softly set down to collect the first lunar samples in 44 years.
The video was captured by a camera underneath the Chang’e 5 lander as it passed over the vast Oceanus Procellarum (“Ocean of Storms”) while aiming for a safe landing site on Tuesday (Dec. 1). The black-and-white footage shows peaks on the horizon before the spacecraft moves into a vertical position to begin its powered descent onto the surface. Another video, released by China’s CCTV news network, shows Chang’e 5’s sample-collection arm drilling into the lunar surface as it collected samples.
The news along China’s Chang’e 5 mission to the surface of the moon has been among the most discussed in recent months, perhaps along with the mystery of metal monoliths.
In our case now, the Chinese mission is of great importance for the future of studying the moon, and if successful, it can easily be considered the most important mission in decades.
The spacecraft launched on Nov. 23 and finally touched down safely Tuesday at 10:11 a.m. EST (1511GMT, 11:11 p.m. Beijing Time) near Mons Rümker, a volcanic peak. However the landing is only one part of a very challenging mission which aims to deliver the first fresh lunar samples to Earth since the 1970s.
The spacecraft began collecting samples within a couple of hours of landing, both scooping from the surface and drilling into the lunar regolith to obtain scientifically precious material.
I remind readers that Chang’e 5 is not the first two-way mission from Earth to the surface of the moon and back. Between 1969 and 1972, a total of six Apollo expeditions made landings on our natural satellite – all manned. Between 1970 and 1976, the USSR launched three returnable lunar missions, which, although unmanned, landed on the moon, took samples, and delivered them to Earth.
However, since 1976, nobody had attempted to go back to the Moon for samples until now.