China in mission to collect materials from the moon
Islam News – For a mission to bring back material from the moon’s surface for the first time in more than four decades, Chinese technicians were making final preparations Monday. Such mission would boost human understanding of the moon and of the solar system.
Chang’e 5 — the Chinese moon goddess — is the country’s most ambitious lunar mission yet. If successful, it would be a major advance for China’s space program, and some experts say it could pave the way for bringing samples back from Mars or even a crewed lunar mission, as Associated Press (AP) news report read.
The China National Space Administration (CNSA) had only confirmed the launch would be in late November and the spacecraft would take three days to reach the moon.
AP news reported that the mission’s main task is to drill 2 meters (almost 7 feet) beneath the moon’s surface and scoop up about 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) of rocks and other debris to be brought back to Earth, according to NASA. That would offer the first opportunity to scientists to study newly obtained lunar material since the American and Russian missions of the 1960s and 1970s.
The Chang’e 5 lacks the radioisotope heating units to withstand the moon’s freezing nights, therefore, it will only stay one lunar daytime that is about 14 Earth days.
The lander will dig for materials with its drill and robotic arm and transfer them to what’s called an ascender, which will lift off from the moon and dock with the “service capsule.” The materials will then be moved to the return capsule for the trip home to Earth.
Joan Johnson-Freese, a space expert at the U.S. Naval War College, said, “China is showing itself capable of developing and successfully carrying out sustained high-tech programs, important for regional influence and potentially global partnerships,” therefore, making it “remarkable in many ways.”
An astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Jonathan McDowell, said the ability to bring back materials from space is growing in value.
Even though the mission is “indeed challenging”, McDowell said, but China had already landed twice on the moon with its 3 and 4 previous editions of the Chang’e and with the 2014 Chang’e 5 test mission to navigate back to Earth, reenter and land a capsule. And now, all that is left is to prove it can collect materials and take off again from the moon.
While many of China’s crewed spaceflight achievements, including building an experimental space station and conducting a space walk, reproduce those of other countries from years past, the CNSA is now moving into new territory.
While China has engaged with the European Space Agency, the US law still prevents collaboration with NASA. As experts say, it is far-fetched to cooperate together (US and China) in space amid political suspicions, a sharpening military rivalry and accusations of Chinese theft of technology.
“A change in U.S. policy regarding space cooperation is unlikely to get much government attention in the near future,” Johnson-Freese said – AP news reported.
Source: Associated Press News