Chang'e 5 returns home with lunar samples

By ZHAO LEI | | Updated: 2020-12-17 02:15
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Staff workers hoist the return capsule onto a vehicle in Siziwang banner, North China's Inner Mongolia autonomous region, on Dec 17, 2020. [Photo by Batbayar/For China Daily]

The probe separated into two parts — the orbiter-reentry capsule combination and the lander-ascender combination — while in lunar orbit early on the morning of Nov 30.

Late on Dec 1, the lander-ascender combination landed on the moon, becoming the world's third spacecraft to touch down on the lunar surface this century after its predecessors – Chang'e 3 and 4.

The landing site was near Mons Ruemker, an isolated volcanic formation located in the Oceanus Procellarum, or Ocean of Storms, a vast lunar mare on the western edge of the moon's near side. The area had never been visited before Chang'e 5 mission.

Shortly after landing, the combination began to fulfill its major tasks – to use a drill to obtain 500 grams of underground samples and then use a mechanical arm to scoop up 1.5 kg of surface dust. Samples were packed into a vacuum container inside the ascender.

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