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Chang’e-6: Lunar samples collected and launched into lunar orbit

Material from the far side of the Moon began its journey to Earth after a Chinese spacecraft collected samples and launched them into lunar orbit. This was reported by the China National Space Administration. Ascendant is currently tracking Chang’e-6 Orbiter in retrograde low lunar orbit.

Chang’e-6 landed on the far side of the moon in late June and began collecting rock and regolith samples with a scoop and drill. It was then loaded onto the lifting machine up to 2000 grams.

“The packaging work was completed in a normal condition, and the whole process went smoothly,” Beijing Aerospace Center (BACC) engineer Li Xiaoyu told CCTV. said.

The device rose and independently determined the location and location with the help of the Queqiao-2 relay satellite. Successful sample collection and liftoff operations are critical steps in the complex four-spacecraft mission to deliver unique and scientifically valuable samples from the far side of the Moon to Earth.

The lander is expected to rendezvous with the mission’s service module and dock within the next few days. During the maneuvers, both spacecraft will move at approximately 1.6 kilometers per second.

Following placement, sample boxes will be transferred to the re-entry module using an automated process. The lift vehicle will then be launched while the shuttle module waits the calculated time to begin returning to Earth. This is expected to happen around June 20-21, and the repeater will land in Inner Mongolia around June 25, Beijing time.

China has not released a planned timeline for the major phases, but the mission is progressing similarly to the nearby 2020 Chang’e-5 sample return mission. Chinese space officials had previously announced that the mission would last 53 days.

Support for the Moon and deep space

The launch from the lunar surface and the anticipated rendezvous and docking in lunar orbit will be a viable experience for China’s plan to send astronauts to the moon and return them safely to Earth by 2030. The sample will also be useful for deep space studies, such as the upcoming Tianwen-2 asteroid and comet flyby. China also plans to launch the Tianwen-3 mission to send samples to Mars around 2030.

“The mission is quite difficult,” Ge Ping, Chang’e-6’s spokesman and deputy director of the CNSA’s Lunar and Space Exploration Center, told Chang’e-6’s CCTV. “We launched the Queqiao-2 repeater satellite in the early stages, applying fast intelligent sampling, take-off and ascent from the lunar surface technologies, which laid a solid foundation for technologies such as soft landing and sampling to extraterrestrial objects.”

Queqiao-2 was launched in March and entered a special lunar orbit. From here it communicates with the far side of the Moon, which is always facing the Earth.

The Chang’e-6 group, consisting of four spacecraft weighing approximately 8.2 tons, was launched from Wenchang Cosmodrome on May 3. It entered lunar orbit approximately 4.5 days later. The mission’s approximately 3.2-ton lander successfully touched down on the moon on June 1 at 6:23 pm EST. The lander targeted the southern portion of Apollo, a mid-latitude crater in the large and scientifically interesting South Pole-Aitken Basin (SPA). .

The Chang’e-6 lander also launched a small rover that took photos of the main spacecraft. Traces of the ride can be seen in the lunar regolith. The image shows the lander and its solar cells, the scoop being deployed. In addition, the Chinese national flag can be seen unfurled after the sample collection is completed. The lifting device is located in the descent module. The panoramic camera also captured the lander’s surroundings.

International payloads, future missions

The French space agency also announced the successful launch of the DORN payload to detect radon emissions and collect data. The payload was shut down before the lander was launched. The lander also carries the negative ion lunar surface (NILS) payload developed by the Swedish Institute for Space Physics and validated by the CNSA. An Italian passive laser reflector was also lowered on board.

The samples may include material ejected from deep within the lunar crust. These and other materials may provide insight into why the near and far sides are so different, as well as clues into the history of the early solar system.

Chang’e-6 is part of China’s broader lunar program. The country will carry out two missions to the south pole of the Moon. These are Chang’e-7 around 2026 and Chang’e-8 around 2028. The country aims to launch the first manned lunar mission by 2030. Both sets of missions are part of a plan to establish a permanent moon base. This project is known as the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS) program and is planned for the 2030s. Many countries and organizations participated in the project.

Source: Port Altele



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