This panoramic image shows the Chang'e 5 lander and the lunar landscape.
Enlarge / This panoramic picture reveals the Chang’e 5 lander and the lunar panorama.

CNSA

Lower than a day after its Chang’e 5 probe made a delicate touchdown on the Moon, the China Nationwide House Administration has launched each a brief video exhibiting the spacecraft’s descent to the floor in addition to a high-definition picture of the lunar panorama.

The panoramic floor picture, highlighting the Oceanus Procellarum area the place the spacecraft landed, is particularly jaw-dropping. It reveals the lander and one among its legs within the foreground, with the lunar floor stretching off to the horizon. This zoomable picture, which measures 15,000×7,947 pixels, gives unbelievable element about small rocks close to the lander, in addition to the indentation made by the touchdown leg within the Moon’s floor.

The sped-up video of the descent clearly reveals the Chang’e 5 lander present process deceleration, reorienting itself, avoiding hazards, after which hovering earlier than coming in for a closing touchdown.

Touchdown on the Moon just isn’t a brand new feat for China. The nation’s Chang’e 3 probe made a profitable delicate touchdown on the Moon in 2013, and in 2019 the Chang’e 4 probe made the first-ever delicate touchdown on the far facet of the Moon—by any nationwide area program. It is also value noting that there are presently three energetic probes on the lunar floor, and all of them are Chinese language.

However the actual check for China’s area program will come on Thursday. Since its touchdown, the Chang’e 5 probe has been scooping up materials and putting lunar regolith right into a pattern return capsule. On Thursday, this small spacecraft will then try and launch from the floor of the Moon, one thing solely beforehand completed by the US and former Soviet Union.

After this small automobile reaches lunar orbit, it should nonetheless dock with the lunar orbiter, hand off samples, after which return safely to Earth by the planet’s environment. All of this, if profitable, will play out over the subsequent few weeks. Ought to all go effectively, earlier than the tip of 2020, China could have the primary new samples of lunar rock returned to Earth in additional than 4 a long time.

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