China’s space probe returns to Earth with rare moon rocks

China’s space probe returns to Earth with rare moon rocks
Image sent by Beresheet's moon lander before communications were lost. Via Twitter

“China’s lunar probe has returned to Earth with the first ever samples from the Moon’s unexplored far side,” reports the BBC:

The Chang’e-6 landed in the Inner Mongolia desert on Tuesday, after a nearly two-month long mission which was fraught with risks. Scientists are eagerly awaiting the Chang’e-6 as the samples could answer key questions about how planets are formed.

China is the only country to have landed on the far side of the Moon, having done so before in 2019. The far side – which faces away from Earth – is technically challenging to reach due to its distance, and its difficult terrain of giant craters and few flat surfaces. Scientists are interested in this less-explored side as it is hoped it may contain traces of ice, which can be harvested for water, oxygen, and hydrogen.

The Chang’e-6 blasted off from a space centre in early May, and successfully landed on a crater close to the Moon’s south pole a few weeks later. Its mission lasted 53 days…This is China’s sixth mission to the Moon, and its second to the far side…The probe used a drill and a robotic arm to scoop up soil and rocks, took some photos of the surface and planted a Chinese flag.

As Wikipedia notes,

The far side of the Moon … always faces away from Earth,…Compared to the near side, the far side’s terrain is rugged, with a multitude of impact craters and relatively few flat and dark lunar maria (“seas”), giving it an appearance closer to other barren places in the Solar System such as Mercury and Callisto. It has one of the largest craters in the Solar System, the South Pole–Aitken basin….About 18 percent of the far side is occasionally visible from Earth due to oscillation and to libration. The remaining 82 percent remained unobserved until 1959, when it was photographed by the Soviet Luna 3 space probe…. All crewed and uncrewed soft landings had taken place on the near side of the Moon, until January 3, 2019, when the Chang’e 4 spacecraft made the first landing on the far side.

An Indian mission to the sun recently collected information about the sun’s outer layers.

This year, Japan became the fifth country to land a spacecraft on the moon. It did so more precisely than any other country, using precision technology that allowed it to touch down closer to its target landing site.

Hans Bader

Hans Bader

Hans Bader practices law in Washington, D.C. After studying economics and history at the University of Virginia and law at Harvard, he practiced civil-rights, international-trade, and constitutional law. He also once worked in the Education Department. Hans writes for and has appeared on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal.” Contact him at


For your convenience, you may leave commments below using Disqus. If Disqus is not appearing for you, please disable AdBlock to leave a comment.