China probe successfully lands on far side of Moon

A Long March 5 rocket, carrying the Chang'e-6 mission lunar probe, lifts off as it rains at the Wenchang Space Launch Centre in southern China's Hainan Province on May 3. AFP-Yonhap

China’s Chang’e-6 lunar probe successfully landed on the far side of the Moon to collect samples, state news agency Xinhua reported Sunday — the latest leap for Beijing’s decades-old space programme.

The Chang’e-6 set down in the immense South Pole-Aitken Basin, one of the largest known impact craters in the solar system, Xinhua said, citing the China National Space Administration.

It marks the first time that samples will be collected from the rarely explored area of the Moon, according to the agency.

The Chang’e-6 is on a technically complex 53-day mission that began on May 3.

Now that the probe has landed, it will attempt to scoop up lunar soil and rocks, and carry out other experiments in the landing zone.

That process should be complete within two days, Xinhua said. The probe will use two methods of collection: a drill to collect samples under the surface and a robotic arm to grab specimens from the surface.

Then it must attempt an unprecedented launch from the side of the Moon that always faces away from Earth.

Scientists say the Moon’s dark side — so-called because it is invisible from Earth, not because it never catches the sun’s 스포츠토토존 rays -—holds great promise for research because its craters are less covered by ancient lava flows than the near side.

Material collected from the dark side may better shed light on how the Moon formed in the first place.

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