China’s Chang’e-5 probe, which successfully returned to earth this week , has retrieved about 1,731 grams of samples from the moon, the country’s space agency said on Saturday.
The samples were transferred to the Chinese research teams on Saturday morning.
Scientists will carry out the storage, analysis and research of the country’s first samples collected from the extra-terrestrial object, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) said.
The return capsule of Chang’e-5 probe landed in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in the early hours of Thursday, bringing the samples collected from the moon.
The Chang’e-5 mission marks a successful conclusion of China’s current three-step lunar exploration programme of orbiting and landing, and bringing back samples which began in 2004.
It was the country’s first attempt to bring the moon samples in over 40 years after the U.S. sent astronauts to the moon to collect samples. In the Soviet Union’s unmanned lunar sampling missions, the spacecraft took off from the moon and returned to Earth directly.
The Chang’e-5 probe, comprising an orbiter, a lander, an ascender and a returner, was launched on November 24, and its lander-ascender combination touched down on the north of the Mons Rumker in Oceanus Procellarum, also known as the Ocean of Storms, on the near side of the moon on December 1.
China in recent years has emerged as a major space power with manned space missions and landing a rover in the dark side of the moon. It is currently building a space station of its own.
Chang’e-5, the third Chinese spacecraft to land on the moon, is the latest in a series of increasingly ambitious missions for Beijing’s space programme.
(Subscribe to Science For All, our weekly newsletter, where we aim to take the jargon out of science and put the fun in. Click here .)