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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.

Go deeper

China sanctions top Trump alumni one day after Uyghur genocide determination

Photo: Andrew Harnik/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

China's Foreign Ministry announced Wednesday it would sanction 28 "anti-China" U.S. politicians, including a slew of top officials from the outgoing Trump administration such as former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former national security adviser John Bolton and former chief strategist Steve Bannon.

Between the lines, via Axios China expert Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian: Chinese government officials have traditionally decried the use of unilateral sanctions by Western countries, even though China regularly blocks foreign companies and individuals from its markets for perceived political slights.

Jan 19, 2021 - World

What Biden's top administration picks signal about his China strategy

Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Early indicators suggest the Biden administration may continue to pursue a robust China strategy that reaches across multiple government departments and agencies.

Why it matters: Though the Trump administration's approach to China was often controversial, there is broad bipartisan agreement that China poses a major challenge to U.S. interests and values.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Politics: Biden unveils "wartime" COVID strategyBiden's COVID-19 bubble.
  3. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  4. World: Hong Kong to put tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge.
  5. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.