Dec 1, 2020 - Science

China successfully lands historic robotic mission on the Moon

The Moon against the blackness of space
Photo: NASA Goddard

China has landed its robotic Chang'e-5 mission on the lunar surface, according to state-run news service Xinhua.

Why it matters: The spacecraft is expected to collect samples from the Moon that will then be returned to Earth for scientific analysis, marking China's most ambitious Moon mission yet.

  • If successful, China will become just the third nation — after the U.S. and former Soviet Union — to bring samples back from the Moon.

The state of play: The lander should drill into the surface of the Moon to collect its sample in the coming hours, according to Andrew Jones at Space News.

  • That sample is then expected to be delivered back to Earth mid-month.

The big picture: China has had a run of successes on the Moon in recent years.

  • The Chang'e-4 spacecraft became the first to land and operate on the far side of the Moon in January 2019.
  • The nation also has plans to eventually send people to the lunar surface.
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