First Samples From Moon's Far Side Return to Earth

China's lunar probe is back
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 25, 2024 3:00 AM CDT
China's Lunar Probe Returns to Earth With Significant Samples
In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, the return capsule of the Chang'e 6 probe is seen in Siziwang Banner, northern China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region on Tuesday, June 25, 2024. China's Chang'e 6 probe has returned on Earth with rock and soil samples from the little-explored far side...   (Bei He/Xinhua via AP)

China's Chang'e 6 lunar probe returned to Earth on Tuesday with rock and soil samples from the little-explored far side of the moon in a global first, the AP reports. The probe landed in northern China on Tuesday afternoon in the Inner Mongolian region. "I now declare that the Chang'e 6 Lunar Exploration Mission achieved complete success," Zhang Kejian, Director of the China National Space Administration said shortly in a televised news conference after the landing. Chinese scientists anticipate the returned samples will include 2.5 million-year-old volcanic rock and other material that scientists hope will answer questions about geographic differences on the moon's two sides.

The near side is what is seen from Earth, and the far side faces outer space. The far side is also known to have mountains and impact craters, contrasting with the relatively flat expanses visible on the near side. While past US and Soviet missions have collected samples from the moon's near side, the Chinese mission was the first that has collected samples from the far side. The moon program is part of a growing rivalry with the US—still the leader in space exploration—and others, including Japan and India. China has put its own space station in orbit and regularly sends crews there.

(More China stories.)

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