At the end of 2020, the Chang’e 5 device delivered new samples of lunar rocks to Earth during the fifth unmanned Chinese mission. But this is not the end of his mission, he continues to explore the depths of space. Recently, the National Space Administration of China (Chinese National Space Administration’s, CNSA) received images taken by the probe from a distance of 1.5 million km, which depict the Earth and the Moon together.
Not the first on the moon
The central task of the Chang’e 5 mission was to deliver the lunar regolith to Earth. The probe went to the satellite at the end of 2020. A descent vehicle has landed on the moon. Drilling through the lunar surface, he collected samples of local rocks and sent them to Earth.
A lunar sample capsule has landed in Inner Mongolia. Thanks to this mission, China became one of the three countries that collected and delivered samples from the lunar surface.
In addition to the first analyzes of lunar samples, photographs became available that the probe took at the first Lagrange point. One of the pictures shows the Moon and the Earth at the same time. It is especially remarkable to see both objects in one picture, because the average distance to the Moon from the Earth is 384.4 thousand km. And the picture itself was taken from a distance of 1.5 million km from the Earth.
The next image shows the Sun also from the first Lagrange point.
In fact, all these images are a non-standard task for the probe, its equipment is not designed and prepared for obtaining such images.
Chang’e 5 became the first mission after the Soviet 1976, which delivered samples of lunar rocks for scientific research, so there is particular interest in it.
The Change’5 space probe set off on its long journey from the Wenchang Cosmodrome (Wenchang Space Launch Center) of Hainan province.
The ship weighs over 8 tons and consists of four modules. Two modules were delivered to lunar orbit. Others – the sample collector and the elevator – landed on the moon on December 1. The stop took place at the Oceanus Procellarum on Mons Rümker Mountain. The device was supposed to complete all the work in 2-3 weeks, as it works on solar energy.
Now the Chang’e 5 mission has completed the main tasks. Now the probe is engaged in the implementation of side projects. The fact is that there is still fuel left on board the spacecraft that delivered the capsule. So the probe continues to operate normally in orbit around the first Lagrange point in the Sun – Earth system.
Now at the surface of the moon there are 3 more Chinese spacecraft:
- landing module Change’3;
- landing module Change’4;
- Mars rover Yutu 2.
In 2019, Change’4 landed on the far side of the moon. He became the first spacecraft to make such a landing. The probe completed all planned tasks, but is still operational and working on new ones.
During the Change’5 mission, 2 kg of lunar soil were delivered to Earth in a capsule for further study. The landing of the capsule was carried out live. In addition to Chinese scientists, they were going to involve colleagues from Europe in the process.
Why are Chinese scientists and astronauts so interested in the Moon? The Moon is perfect for global space exploration. What exactly:
- It is possible how to work out the automatic landing of complex vehicles.
- It is easier to maintain communication with the device due to the relatively small distance from the Earth.
- Relatively low cost of the mission compared to flights to other space objects.
- An expedition to the Moon with a landing on the surface takes about 10-14 days, unlike other missions that require several months or even years of flight.
In 2023-2024, China plans to deliver soil to Earth from the south polar lunar region. The Change’6 spacecraft will be technologically identical to the probe for the fifth mission.