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Mission to Moon: China set to bring back first lunar rocks in 40 years

China is gearing up for the launch of an unmanned spacecraft to the moon between 4-5 am (2000-2100 GMT) in the early hours of Tuesday (November 24), the official Xinhua news agency reported, citing information from the country's National Space Administration.

The spacecraft is being sent to bring back lunar rocks in the first attempt by any country to retrieve samples from the moon since the 1970s.

The Chang'e-5 probe, named after the ancient Chinese goddess of the moon, will seek to collect material that can help scientists understand more about the moon's origins and formation.

The mission will test China's ability to remotely acquire samples from space, ahead of more complex missions.

China's probe will attempt to collect two kg (4.5 pounds) of samples in a previously unvisited area in a massive lava plain known as Oceanus Procellarum, or "Ocean of Storms".

If successful, the mission will make China only the third country to have retrieved lunar samples, following the United States and the Soviet Union decades ago.

The Chang'e-5 mission may help answer questions such as how long the moon remained volcanically active in its interior and when its magnetic field - key to protecting any form of life from the sun's radiation - dissipated.

During a brief government-organised visit to the launch centre, a group of reporters were taken to a place where they could see, in the distance, the Long March 5 rocket which carries the Chang'e-5 probe.

China made its first lunar landing in 2013. In January 2019, the Chang'e-4 probe touched down on the far side of the moon, the first by any nation's space probe.

Within the next decade, China plans to establish a robotic base station to conduct unmanned exploration in the south polar region.

It is to be developed through the Chang'e-6,7 and 8 missions through the 2020s and expanded through the 2030s ahead of manned landings. China plans to retrieve samples from Mars by 2030.

Source : DNA India

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