China’s Chang’e 6 Probe Returns with First Samples from Moon’s Far Side

China’s Chang’e 6 lunar probe made a successful return to Earth on Tuesday, bringing back samples from the moon’s far side and concluding a historic 53-day mission. The probe landed in a designated area in northern Inner Mongolia shortly after 2 PM local time, according to Chinese broadcaster CCTV, as reported by CNN.

This mission marks a significant advancement in China’s ambitious space program. A livestream captured the module’s descent via parachute, met with applause in the mission control room. “The Chang’e-6 lunar exploration mission has been a complete success,” declared Zhang Kejian, head of the China National Space Administration (CNSA), from the control room.

The probe returned with soil and rocks from the moon’s far side, an area less affected by ancient lava flows compared to the near side, as reported by AFP. Scientists hope these samples will provide valuable insights into the moon’s formation and evolution.

Chang’e-6 launched from the space center on Hainan Island on May 3, landing in the moon’s vast South Pole-Aitken Basin nearly a month later. It used a drill and robotic arm to collect samples, took images of the cratered surface, and planted a Chinese flag made from basalt in the lunar soil.

On June 4, the probe achieved the first-ever successful launch from the moon’s far side, an achievement hailed by the Chinese news agency Xinhua as “an unprecedented feat in human lunar exploration history.”

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