China saw the hidden side of the moon and brought back memories: what we know about this unprecedented achievement at the global level

China saw the hidden side of the moon and brought back memories: what we know about this unprecedented achievement at the global level

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China successfully extracted samples from the far side of the Moon using the Chang'e-6 probe before planting its flag there on June 4, 2024.

This is the first of its kind in the world according to the China Space Administration (CNSA): samples were taken from the far side of the Moon on Tuesday, June 4, 2024. The Chinese Chang'e-6 probe is considered to be the origin of this feat, which Beijing was quick to claim from By planting its flag on the dark side of the lunar face. This announcement represents a new step in China's ambitious space program, which aims to send a manned mission to the moon by 2030.

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Moon landing in one of the largest impact craters in the solar system

On May 3, the Chang'e-6 probe left Chinese territory on a 53-day mission. After 4 weeks, it landed on Earth's natural satellite. Using a drill and a robotic arm, the latter took samples from the basin called Antarctica-Aitken, according to Agence France-Presse. It is one of the largest known impact craters in the solar system, located on the far side of the Moon, as designated by the Space Administration.

Immediately after installing the Chinese flag, the probe's ascent module flew to place itself in a predetermined orbit around the satellite, which it would later leave to return to Earth with its spoils, according to the CNSA. In these samples, parts of the history of the Moon and the Solar System could be hidden, as well as materials needed to prepare for future space explorations.

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Can the history of the moon – and the solar system – be read on its hidden side?

What the Chinese robotic arm sought with such enthusiasm was the information it contained, more than these lunar samples. The hidden side of the Moon forms a dark continent for space research. It is an invisible region of the Earth, rarely explored, and the latter contains craters partially spared by lava flows covered by the visible side. They are better preserved, more readable – and can contain many more stories. Samples taken from the hidden side could actually allow us to learn more about the composition and history of Earth's natural satellite. At least that is the hope expressed by Beijing. These samples would also enable a better understanding of the “origin of the solar system” and better prepare future explorations, said Chang'e-6 mission spokesman Ge Ping, quoted by Xinhua News Agency. France Press agency.

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China is competing with the United States in the race for the lunar program

If China succeeds, the hidden side of the moon will not become dark in its view anytime soon. Beijing plans to launch the first manned mission to the moon by 2030, in addition to building a lunar base. The Chinese power is not its first success in this field. Among its major weapons accomplishments is the fact that it safely placed a device on the far side of the moon in 2019 — a world's first, at the time. In 2020, it also reported lunar samples that came from the visible side of the star. China has greatly developed its space programs under the presidency of Xi Jinping, who allocated several billion dollars to it in order to compete with Russian and American powers. For its part, Washington plans to send astronauts to the moon again by 2026 on the occasion of the Artemis 3 mission or when the major economic powers are proud of their presence on the moon…

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