Scientists can’t keep calm over China’s latest mission to the moon. Here’s why!3 min readReading Time: 3 minutes
China’a latest mission to the moon, the Chang’e 5 spacecraft, is set to bring the youngest lunar samples back to the Earth that will reveal a whole new lunar history to us earthlings!
What’s the process?
On 23rd November, Long March Rocket 5 carried Chang’e 5 spacecraft into space. There, Chang’e 5 separated from the rocket using its thrusters to make a four days long trip to the moon.
It should be reaching any moment, now!
A lander will come out of the spacecraft near a volcanic mound on the Moon’s surface to collect samples and store it in a capsule. The lander will return the capsule to the orbiting spacecraft that will then start its journey back to the Earth.
You must have seen those wriggly lines on the surface of the moon. You know them if you have ever tried to make shapes out of those lines! Those lines are because of multiple craters that cover the surface of the moon.
These craters were formed by asteroid or meteorite collisions against its surface. Some of these lines are also volcanic mounds. Chang’e 5 will be collecting samples around a volcanic mound called Mons Rümker on the northwestern part of the near side of the moon.
Owliver’s Obscure Observations:
The near side of the moon is that side of the moon which is always turned towards the Earth. The other side is called (no surprises there) the far side.
The last sample from the Moon all of 176 grams was delivered by Soviet Union’s Luna spacecraft in 1976.
Chang’e 5 will bring back at least 4.6 pounds of sample for scientist to study!
What is so special about this sample?
- Since the sample will be collected close to Mons Rümker, it will disclose priceless information about the volcanic activity on the moon and what causes it to last across years. A recorded volcanic activity on the moon was said to last a billion years!
- The sample will also be a young sample (less than 2 billion years old as against the more than 3 billion years old we have now courtesy the Apollo mission). This will help scientists study the volcanic formation that led to the rocky surface that the moon is now known for.
- A study of the rocks and soil near the mound will also reveal why certain unusual elements- potassium, rare earth elements, phosphorus, and radioactive elements like uranium and thorium-are abundantly available on the moon.
- The sample will also allow scientists to time the creation of craters on the moon. This will in turn reveal timescales of other celestial bodies as time in space is recorded in relation to other objects.
- A radar attached to the lander will also allow scientists to look deep into the layers of the moon and determine its geological history.
- The lander is also equipped with technologies to search for water containing minerals on the moon.
Owliver’s Obscure Observations:
Water is the first sign for a celestial body to be hospitable to life! Since we are depleting resources on Earth, scientists are actively searching for alternatives.
Can you imagine living on the moon?!
Chang’e 5 will return to Earth around December 16.
The sample that Chang’e 5 brings back might change how we have seen the moon and understood space so far making this a one of its kind mission!
Think with Owliver:
The friendly moon from your window looks a lot more mysterious now, doesn’t it? Find out about other missions to the Moon and what they brought back for us.