China lands robot spacecraft on the Moon to return lunar rocks

A probe sent to return moon rocks to Earth has landed on the moon, Chinese state media report.

The country’s Chang’e-5 mission – which consists of four modules – will return rock and dust samples to Earth and hopes to collect about 2 kg of “soil” or regolith.

It will be sent to Mons Rumker, a volcanic complex, and will spend the next few days observing the area.

The complex is part of a previously untouched area in a huge lava plain known as Oceanus Procellarum, or “Ocean of Storms”.

If all goes to plan, it will dig up to 2 meters below the lunar surface and the monsters will return to Earth by December 17.

The vessel took off from Hainan Island, South China on November 23.

When the mission is complete, China would become the third country to collect lunar samples after the US and the Soviet Union.

The landing vehicle that landed on the surface of the moon was one of several spacecraft deployed by the Chang’e-5 probe.

On landing, the landing vehicle is assumed to drill into the ground with a robotic arm and then transfer its soil and rock samples to a riser vehicle that takes off and moors with a runway module.

State broadcaster CCTV said it would begin collecting samples on the lunar surface in the next two days. The samples would be transferred to a return capsule for the journey back to Earth, which would land in China’s Inner Mongolia region.

China made its first moon landing in 2013. In January last year, the Chang’e-4 probe landed on the far side of the moon, the first space probe in any country to do so.