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China's Chang'e 6 lunar probe returns to Earth with world's first samples from moon's far side (WATCH)

China's Chang'e 6 probe made history by returning to Earth on Tuesday with valuable rock and soil samples from the uncharted far side of the moon in a global first. 

China Change 6 lunar probe returns to Earth with world's first samples from moon's far side (WATCH) snt
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First Published Jun 25, 2024, 12:19 PM IST

China's Chang'e 6 probe made history by returning to Earth on Tuesday with valuable rock and soil samples from the uncharted far side of the moon in a global first. The probe touched down in northern China during Tuesday afternoon in the Inner Mongolian region.

Scientists from China are eager for the returned samples, which are expected to include volcanic rock dating back 2.5 million years and other materials. These samples could provide insights into the geographical differences between the moon's two hemispheres.

Unlike previous missions by the US and Soviet Union that focused on the moon's near side, this Chinese mission marks the first to gather samples from the far side. The near side faces Earth and is well-known, while the far side, which faces outward into space, features mountains and impact craters, presenting a stark contrast with the smoother terrain of the near side.

The probe's journey began on May 3 and lasted 53 days, during which it drilled into the moon's core and collected surface rocks.

The samples “are expected to answer one of the most fundamental scientific questions in lunar science research: what geologic activity is responsible for the differences between the two sides?” said Zongyu Yue, a geologist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in a statement issued in the Innovation Monday, a journal published in partnership with the Chinese Academcy of Sciences.

China has demonstrated its lunar exploration capabilities with several successful missions in recent years, including collecting samples from the moon's near side with the Chang'e 5 probe.

Scientists are particularly hopeful that the samples brought back by Chang'e 6 may contain traces of past meteorite impacts on the moon's surface.

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