25 Sep 2021 Chang’e-5 probe
Early-stage findings of Chang’e-5 probe, which use
geological mapping to link ‘exotic’ fragments in the
collected samples to features near the landing site,
were recently presented by China.
Chinese spacecraft carrying rocks and soil from the
moon had begun its journey back to Earth in
December 2020, putting China on course to
become the first country to successfully retrieve
lunar samples since the 1970s.
Where was it landed?
The Chang’e-5 landing site is located on the western
edge of the nearside of the Moon in the Northern
This is one of the youngest geological areas of the
Moon with an age of roughly two billion years. The
materials scraped from the surface comprise a loose
soil that results from the fragmentation and powdering
of lunar rocks over billions of years due to impacts of
1. Ninety percent of the materials collected by
Chang’e-5 likely derive from the landing site and its
immediate surroundings, which are of a type
termed ‘mare basalts’.
2. These volcanic rocks are visible to us as the darker
gray areas that spilled over much of the nearside of
the Moon as ancient eruptions of lava.
3. Yet ten percent of the fragments have distinctly
different, ‘exotic’ chemical compositions, and may
preserve records of other parts of the lunar surface
as well as hints of the types of space rocks that
have impacted the Moon’s surface.
4. Potential sources of beads of rapidly cooled
glassy material: Researchers have traced these
glassy droplets to now extinct volcanic vents known
as ‘Rima Mairan’ and ‘Rima Sharp’ located roughly
230 and 160 kilometers southeast and northeast of
the Chang’e-5 landing site. These fragments could
give insights into past episodes of energetic,
fountain-like volcanic activity on the Moon.
A successful landing in Inner Mongolia made China
only the third country to have retrieved lunar
samples after the United States and the Soviet
The plan was to collect 2 kg (4.4 lbs) of samples,
although it has not been disclosed how much was
When was it launched?
The Chang’e-5 was launched on Nov. 24 and a lander
vehicle touched down on the moon on Dec. 1. The
mission was expected to take around 23 days in total.
The objective of the mission was to bring back lunar
rocks, the first attempt by any nation to retrieve
samples from the moon in four decades.
About Chang’e-5 probe:
It is an unmanned spacecraft by China. The probe is
named after the mythical Chinese moon goddess.
The rocket comprises four parts: an orbiter, a
returner, an ascender and a lander.
The Chang’e-5 mission is expected to realize four “firsts”
in China’s space history:
1. The first time for a probe to take off from the
surface of the Moon.
2. The first time to automatically sample the lunar
3. The first time to conduct unmanned rendezvous
and docking in lunar orbit.
4. The first time to return to Earth with lunar soil
samples in escape velocity.