Chang'e-6 collected world's first samples from the moon's far side


China's lunar exploration mission, Chang'e-6, successfully completed humanity's first ever Moon's far side sampling on June 3, and for the first time, raised the five-star red flag on the Moon's far side.

The next day (June 4), the China National Space Administration (CNSA) released a series of images of the Moon's far side taken by Chang'e-6.

Chang'e-6 is the sixth lunar exploration mission in China's lunar exploration programme, carrying out China's second lunar sampling return mission following Chang'e-5.

Chang'e-6 collected samples from far side of the moon

The CNSA releases the image of the sampling process of Chang'e-6. (Image Source: Weibo @China Aerospace Culture)

The journey of Chang'e-6 to the Moon began on May 3. After the probe was launched into space, it successfully completed near-moon braking, separation of the lander and ascender, and separation of the orbiter and returner.

On June 2, Chang'e-6 successfully landed on the preselected landing area in the South Pole-Aitken Basin on the far side of the Moon.

According to information released by the CNSA, Chang'e-6 successfully completed intelligent and rapid sampling on the far side of the Moon from June 2 to 3; and the samples were sealed and stored as planned in the storage device carried by the ascender.

After Chang'e-6 completed the sampling on the far side of the moon, a character "Zhong"(中) was left on the lunar surface. (Image Source: Weibo @China Aerospace Culture)

It is reported that intelligent sampling is one of the critical parts of the Chang'e-6 mission. The probe withstood the high temperature test on the far side of the Moon, and collected moon samples by drilling and mechanical arm extraction, achieving multi-point, diversified automatic sampling.

During the sampling and packaging process, the Chang'e probe development team in the lab on earth simulated the sampling process and the geographical model of the sampling area based on the data sent back by Queqiao relay satellite.

Chang'e 6 displayed national flag on the moon's far side

Chinese national flag carried by the lander of Chang'e-6 probe unfurls at the moon's far side, which is the first time that China has independently showcased the national flag on the far side of the Moon.

China has independently displayed the national flag on the far side of the moon for the first time. (Image Source: CNSA)

According to Zhou Changyi, the chief designer of the Chang'e-6 probe's payload subsystem, the national flag displayed on the far side of the Moon is made of basalt fibre, which has excellent characteristics such as stronger corrosion resistance, high temperature and low temperature resistance.

How is basalt made into a flag? Zhou Changyi said that basalt needs to be crushed, melted, then pulled into ultrafine lines with a diameter of roughly a third that of human hair, which would be then spun into threads and woven into cloth.

And the national flag carried by Chang'e-6 weighs only 11.3 grams, which is 0.5 grams lighter than the flag on Chang'e-5.

As reported, basalt fibre has excellent insulation and radiation resistance and can withstand the harsh environment on the lunar surface. In the future, as a lightweight and flexible protective material, basalt fibre will see increasingly widespread use in space suits, spacecraft, lunar bases and other aerospace scenarios.

CNSA released Chang'e-6 images 

On June 4, the CNSA released a series of high-definition photos and videos, including a joint photo of the Chang'e-6 lander and ascender, a series of images of the Moon's far side taken by Chang'e-6, and the process of Chang'e-6's sampling and packaging.

The relevant image data was sent back by the Queqiao relay satellite and obtained by the ground application system.

On June 3, Chang'e-6's "mobile camera" autonomously moved and successfully took and sent back a photo of the lander and the ascender together. (Image Source: CNSA)

After Chang'e-6 completed lunar sampling, the ascender will dock with the orbiter-returner combination awaiting in the lunar orbit, and the moon samples will be transferred to the returner.

The orbiter-returner combination will orbit the moon, awaiting the appropriate return time for moon-to-earth transfer. Near the Earth, the returner will carry the lunar samples back into the atmosphere, and it is expected to land in the landing site in Siziwang Banner, Inner Mongolia on June 25.

  Series of images of the far side of the Moon:

Chang'e-6 returned to earth with samples from moon's far side

When will Hong Kong's first astronaut take off?

Chang'e-6 lands on moon's far side to collect samples

Nearly 26 hours, the longest flight route in the world