The Long March-5 Y5 rocket, carrying the Chang’e-5 lunar probe, takes off from Wenchang Space Launch Center, in Wenchang, Hainan province, China .(Reuters)
The Long March-5 Y5 rocket, carrying the Chang’e-5 lunar probe, takes off from Wenchang Space Launch Center, in Wenchang, Hainan province, China .(Reuters)

China launches robotic spacecraft to retrieve rocks from the moon

The Chang’e-5 mission, named after the ancient Chinese goddess of the moon, will seek to collect lunar material to help scientists understand more about the moon’s origins and formation.
By Reuters | Posted by Shivani Kumar | Wenchang
UPDATED ON NOV 24, 2020 04:17 AM IST

China on Tuesday launched a robotic spacecraft to bring back rocks from the moon in the first bid by any country to retrieve samples from the lunar surface since the 1970s, a mission that underscores Chinese ambitions in space.

The Long March-5, China’s largest carrier rocket, blasted off at 4:30 am Beijing time (2030 GMT on Monday) in a pre-dawn launch from Wenchang Space Launch Center on the southern Chinese island of Hainan carrying the Chang’e-5 spacecraft.

The Chang’e-5 mission, named after the ancient Chinese goddess of the moon, will seek to collect lunar material to help scientists understand more about the moon’s origins and formation. The mission will test China’s ability to remotely acquire samples from space, ahead of more complex missions.

State broadcaster CCTV, which ran live coverage of the launch, showed images of China National Space Administration staff in blue uniforms applauding and cheering as they watched the spacecraft climbing through the atmosphere, lighting up the night sky.

If successful, the mission would make China only the third country to have retrieved lunar samples, joining the United States and the Soviet Union.

Upon entering the moon’s orbit, the spacecraft is intended to deploy a pair of vehicles to the lunar surface: a lander and an ascender. The landing is due to take place in about eight days, according to Pei Zhaoyu, a spokesman for the mission. The probe is due to be on the lunar surface for about two days, while the entire mission is scheduled to take around 23 days.

The plan is for the lander to drill into the lunar surface, with a robotic arm scooping out soil and rocks. This material would be transferred to the ascender vehicle, which is due to carry it from the surface and then dock with an orbiting module.

The samples then would be transferred to a return capsule for the return trip to Earth, with a landing in China’s Inner Mongolia region.

“The biggest challenges ... are the sampling work on the lunar surface, take-off from the lunar surface, rendezvous and docking in the lunar orbit, as well as high-speed re-entry to Earth,” said Pei, also director of the space administration’s Lunar Exploration and Space Engineering Center.

“We can conduct sampling through circumlunar and moon- landing exploration, but it is more intuitive to obtain samples to conduct scientific research - the method is more direct,” Pei added. “Plus, there will be more instruments and more methods to study them on Earth.”

China, which last year carried out the first landing on the far side of the moon and in July of this year launched a robotic probe to Mars, has other space goals in its sights. It aims to have a permanent manned space station in service around 2022.

“From next year, we will carry out the launch mission of our national space station,” said Qu Yiguang, deputy commander of the Long March-5 carrier rocket.

Asked when China was planning to put astronauts on the moon, Pei said any decision would be based on scientific needs, as well as technical and economic conditions, adding: “I think future lunar exploration activities should be carried out by a combination of man and machine.”

Matt Siegler, a research scientist at the Arizona-based Planetary Science Institute who is not part of Chang’e-5 mission, said the Mons Rumker volcanic area of the moon where the spacecraft is due to land is 1-2 billion years old.

“That is very young for the moon - most of our samples are 3.5 billion years old or more,” Siegler said in an email, noting that the area and other similar ones represented “late-stage volcanism” when the moon had enough internal heat for such activity.

“We want to find out what is special about these regions and why they remained warm longer than the rest of the moon,” Siegler added.

The United States, which currently has plans to return astronauts to the moon by 2024, landed 12 astronauts there in its Apollo programme over six flights from 1969 to 1972, and brought back 382 kg (842 pounds) of rocks and soil.

The Soviet Union deployed three successful robotic lunar sample-return missions in the 1970s. The last, the Luna 24, retrieved about 170 grams (6 ounces) of samples in 1976 from a region called Mare Crisium.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
app
Close
FILE PHOTO: A healthcare worker prepares a Pfizer coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 7, 2021. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo(REUTERS)
FILE PHOTO: A healthcare worker prepares a Pfizer coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 7, 2021. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo(REUTERS)

No serious Covid-19 cases among Israelis given Pfizer shot, says health minister

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 05:54 PM IST
Health minister Yuli Edelstein told a parliamentary panel that new infections and hospital admissions for serious or critical coronavirus complications were now at record numbers.
Close
It is not clear which tweets led to the ban on Lindell's account(Bloomberg)
It is not clear which tweets led to the ban on Lindell's account(Bloomberg)

Twitter bans major Republican donor Mike Lindell over Capitol riots

ANI, Washington
PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 05:53 PM IST
  • According to a report by CNN, the decision to ban Lindell's account was taken based on Twitter's new policy whereby people who repeatedly share election misinformation can be permanently banned.
Close
For the 56-year-old Conte, a lawyer plucked from Florence academia to head his first government in 2018, it’s the second time he’s seen his coalition fall apart.(AFP)
For the 56-year-old Conte, a lawyer plucked from Florence academia to head his first government in 2018, it’s the second time he’s seen his coalition fall apart.(AFP)

Italian PM Conte resigns, leaving country adrift in the midst of the pandemic

By HT Correspondent | AFP
UPDATED ON JAN 26, 2021 05:47 PM IST
Weakened by the defection of a junior partner, Giuseppe Conte offered his resignation to President Sergio Mattarella on Tuesday, according to a statement from the president’s office.
Close
The 15-member Cabinet of Prime Minister Kaja Kallas was approved Tuesday in the 101-seat Riigikogu legislature, after President Kersti Kaljulaid had first appointed it.(Reuters)
The 15-member Cabinet of Prime Minister Kaja Kallas was approved Tuesday in the 101-seat Riigikogu legislature, after President Kersti Kaljulaid had first appointed it.(Reuters)

Estonia's new government sworn in with Kaja Kallas as first-ever woman PM

PTI, Helsinki
PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 05:29 PM IST
Kallas stressed gender balance in forming the new Cabinet, placing several women in key positions such as Reform's Keit Pentus-Rosimannus as finance minister and Eva-Maria Liimets, Estonia's ambassador to the Czech Republic, as the foreign minister.
Close
FILE - In this Jan. 25, 2021, file photo, President Joe Biden answers questions from reporters in the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex, in Washington. Biden is unlikely to confront China on trade right away because he wants to focus on the coronavirus and the economy, but he does look set to renew pressure over trade and technology grievances that prompted President Donald Trump to hike tariffs on Chinese imports in 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)(AP)
FILE - In this Jan. 25, 2021, file photo, President Joe Biden answers questions from reporters in the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex, in Washington. Biden is unlikely to confront China on trade right away because he wants to focus on the coronavirus and the economy, but he does look set to renew pressure over trade and technology grievances that prompted President Donald Trump to hike tariffs on Chinese imports in 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)(AP)

US Prez Joe Biden won't have infinite time to rejoin nuclear deal, says Iran

AP, Tehran
PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 05:27 PM IST
Iran also said it expects Washington to swiftly lift crippling economic sanctions that former President Donald Trump imposed on the country after pulling America out of the atomic accord in 2018, as part of what he called maximum pressure against Iran.
Close
Sri Lanka on Friday approved emergency use of Oxford AstraZeneca's Covishield vaccine being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India.(Reuters)
Sri Lanka on Friday approved emergency use of Oxford AstraZeneca's Covishield vaccine being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India.(Reuters)

Sri Lanka thanks India for sending coronavirus vaccine

PTI, Colombo
PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 05:15 PM IST
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa told the Cabinet that the Indian High Commissioner in Colombo informed that India would be sending 500,000 vaccines to Sri Lanka and they will arrive here on January 28.
Close
Last week -- after Pfizer's announced delay but before AstraZeneca's -- von der Leyen vowed the aim was to inoculate 70 percent of adults in the EU by the end of August. That goal now looks in jeopardy.(REUTERS (Representative Image))
Last week -- after Pfizer's announced delay but before AstraZeneca's -- von der Leyen vowed the aim was to inoculate 70 percent of adults in the EU by the end of August. That goal now looks in jeopardy.(REUTERS (Representative Image))

Covid-19 vaccine firms must deliver, says EU chief

AFP
PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 05:06 PM IST
"Europe invested billions to help develop the world's first Covid-19 vaccines," Ursula von der Leyen said in a live video address to an online-only version of the annual World Economic Forum usually held in Davos, Switzerland.
Close
The WHO advised clinicians to put patients into the awake prone position, on their front, shown to improve the oxygen flow, Harris said.(REUTERS)
The WHO advised clinicians to put patients into the awake prone position, on their front, shown to improve the oxygen flow, Harris said.(REUTERS)

WHO issues new clinical advice on treating Covid-19 patients

Reuters, Geneva
PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 04:59 PM IST
"The other things in the guidance that are new are that COVID-19 patients at home should have the use of pulse oximetry, that's measuring the oxygen levels, so you can identify whether somewhat at home is deteriorating and would be better off having hospital care," WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris told a U.N. briefing in Geneva.
Close
General view of Riyadh city in Saudi Arabia.(Reuters)
General view of Riyadh city in Saudi Arabia.(Reuters)

Blast heard in Saudi capital Riyadh: Report

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 04:58 PM IST
Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV cited local reports of an explosion and videos circulating on social media of a missile being intercepted over Riyadh.
Close
Conte’s government was thrown into turmoil earlier this month when a junior coalition party headed by ex-Premier Matteo Renzi yanked its support.(Reuters Photo)
Conte’s government was thrown into turmoil earlier this month when a junior coalition party headed by ex-Premier Matteo Renzi yanked its support.(Reuters Photo)

Italy's Giuseppe Conte to resign, seek nod to form new coalition

AP, Rome
PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 04:31 PM IST
Conte is hoping to get President Sergio Mattarella’s support for forming a new coalition government that can steer the country through the pandemic, economic recession and a spending plan for 209 billion euros in European Union recovery funds.
Close
A file photo shows the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt as it is moored pier side at Naval Base Guam on May 15, 2020. A US aircraft carrier group sailed into the South China Sea on a so-called "freedom of navigation" exercise, the first routine operation in the region under new President Joe Biden. Led by the USS Theodore Roosevelt, the carrier strike group entered the area on January 23, 2021, the US Indo-Pacific Command said, the same day Taiwan reported multiple Chinese jets and bombers had flown into its air defense zone. (AFP)
A file photo shows the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt as it is moored pier side at Naval Base Guam on May 15, 2020. A US aircraft carrier group sailed into the South China Sea on a so-called "freedom of navigation" exercise, the first routine operation in the region under new President Joe Biden. Led by the USS Theodore Roosevelt, the carrier strike group entered the area on January 23, 2021, the US Indo-Pacific Command said, the same day Taiwan reported multiple Chinese jets and bombers had flown into its air defense zone. (AFP)

China deploys warships in South China Sea after US aircraft carrier sails by

By Sutirtho Patranobis
PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 03:38 PM IST
Three of China’s front-line docking ships, comprising the Wuzhishan, Changbaishan and Kunlunshan of the southern theatre navy, started an exercise focusing on actual combat training and beach landing exercises in the SCS, a state media report said
Close
“I have every confidence we will get our deliveries as scheduled,” Nadhim Zahawi told LBC Radio on Tuesday. “Vaccine nationalism is the wrong way to go.”(via REUTERS)
“I have every confidence we will get our deliveries as scheduled,” Nadhim Zahawi told LBC Radio on Tuesday. “Vaccine nationalism is the wrong way to go.”(via REUTERS)

UK warns EU against ‘vaccine nationalism’ in row over supplies

Bloomberg
PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 03:20 PM IST
  • The UK leads Europe in coronavirus vaccinations, with 6.6 million people -- about 10% of Britain’s population -- receiving a first dose as of Monday. There is growing anger in the EU about delivery delays from AstraZeneca Plc, which is expected to deliver fewer jabs than previously expected.
Close
Since the start of the curfew on Saturday, there has been widespread unrest in what a local police union has dubbed the worst riots in four decades.(AFP)
Since the start of the curfew on Saturday, there has been widespread unrest in what a local police union has dubbed the worst riots in four decades.(AFP)

Dutch Covid-19 riots add to political tension ahead of elections

Bloomberg
PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 03:13 PM IST
Police arrested more than 150 people after incidents in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and smaller Dutch cities on Monday, according to local media reports.
Close
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa visits the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) treatment facilities in Johannesburg, South Africa.(Reuters)
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa visits the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) treatment facilities in Johannesburg, South Africa.(Reuters)

Stop hoarding Covid vaccines, South Africa's Ramaphosa tells rich countries

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 03:01 PM IST
Ramaphosa, who currently chairs the African Union, said African countries wanted access to vaccines as quickly as other nations.
Close
It's not clear how many Signal users there are in Iran but many migrated to the app after Whatsapp updated its privacy policy in January.(Bloomberg)
It's not clear how many Signal users there are in Iran but many migrated to the app after Whatsapp updated its privacy policy in January.(Bloomberg)

Iranian users of Signal messaging service say app blocked

AP, Tehran
PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 03:00 PM IST
Users in several neighborhoods in the capital Tehran and at least three other major cities said access to the app was blocked gradually beginning in the afternoon.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP