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The Chang'e-5 spacecraft gathering a sample on the Moon. Photo: China National Space Administration/AFP via Getty Images

A capsule containing Moon rocks collected from the lunar surface by China's Chang'e-5 mission has been found in Inner Mongolia.

Why it matters: China is just the third nation to return lunar samples to Earth, after the U.S. and former Soviet Union.

Details: The rock samples were taken from Oceanus Procellarum, an area thought to be hundreds of millions of years younger than the Apollo sites.

  • By analyzing these lunar rocks back on Earth, scientists will be able to get a more clear picture of the evolution of the Moon.
  • The Chang'e-5 mission comes on the heels of other robotic Chinese missions to the Moon, including the 2019 Chang'e-4 mission, which became the first to operate on the far side of the Moon.

The big picture: These kinds of sample return missions are beneficial for scientists because the kind of analysis that can be done on Earth is far superior to the science that can be performed by rovers or orbital missions taking photos — labs on the planet are just more powerful.

  • Japan just returned a sample of an asteroid to Earth for analysis, and NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission sampled a different asteroid, with plans to return its sample in 2023.

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Jan 12, 2021 - Science

Scientists discover 10 billion-year-old "super-Earth" planet

Artist's illustration of the planet TOI-561b. Image: W. M. Keck Observatory/Adam Makarenko

Scientists have discovered a rocky “super-Earth” planet in an ancient star system that likely formed 10 billion years ago, only a few billion years after our Milky Way galaxy came to be.

Why it matters: The newfound planet likely can't support life, but in general, researchers think older planetary systems have better odds of possibly harboring life because they're long-lived.

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.

Trump impeachment trial to start week of Feb. 8, Schumer says

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: The Washington Post via Getty

The Senate will begin former President Trump's impeachment trial the week of Feb. 8, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Friday on the Senate floor.

The state of play: Schumer announced the schedule after reaching an agreement with Republicans. The House will transmit the article of impeachment against the former president late Monday.