China sends a probe into space to explore the hidden side of the moon

China sends a probe into space to explore the hidden side of the moon

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — China launched a probe on Friday that will travel to the far side of the moon to collect samples, the goal being to allow scientists to better understand the differences between this side of the moon and the side that can be seen from Earth.

This is another breakthrough in China’s increasingly sophisticated space exploration programme. China is now competing with the United States, which nevertheless remains the world leader in the space sector.

Aside from exposure to Earth and other interference, the far side of the Moon remains somewhat mysterious, making it ideal for radio astronomy and other scientific work.

Since this side never faces the Earth, a relay satellite is needed to maintain communications.

The rocket carrying the Chang’e-6 lunar probe lifted off as planned at 5:27 p.m. local time on Friday from the Wenchang Launch Center in Hainan Province.

After about 35 minutes, the probe completely separated from the missile, under the eyes of many people gathered in the control center. There was applause in the room at the time of separation.

After orbiting the moon to reduce its speed, the lander will separate from the probe, and within 48 hours of landing, it will begin drilling the surface of the moon and taking samples with its robotic arm.

Once the samples are placed in a container, they will be reconnected to the probe on its return trip to Earth. The entire mission is expected to last 53 days.

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In 2020, China returned samples from the near side of the moon to Earth, the first since the end of the American Apollo program in the 1970s. Analysis of the samples revealed that they contained water in the form of small beads embedded in the lunar soil.

China’s ambitious space program aims to send astronauts to the moon by 2030, return samples from Mars around the same year, and launch three lunar exploration missions over the next four years.

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