According to government sources, China has landed a probe to collect rock samples on the far side of the moon for the first time. As the state news agency Xinhua reported, citing the Chinese space agency, a landing module of the space probe named “Chang’e 6” after the Chinese moon goddess “successfully” landed on the surface.

The mission is considered a milestone for China’s ambitious space program. It would be the first time in human history that soil and rock samples would be brought to Earth from the far side of the moon.

The landing site of the “Chang’e 6” is the South Pole-Aitken Basin, the largest and oldest impact crater on the moon. According to the science magazine “Science”, this has a diameter of 2500 kilometers and is up to eight kilometers deep. Scientists have long wanted to obtain rock samples from this region.

As the Guardian reports, the sampling process is expected to be completed within two days. The probe will use two sampling methods: a borehole to collect samples below the surface and a robotic arm to grab samples from the surface.

After collecting the samples, the probe will attempt an unprecedented launch from the far side of the moon. The “dark side” of the moon – so called because it is not visible from Earth, not because it never catches the sun’s rays – holds great promise for research, according to the Guardian.

Unlike the side facing the Earth, its craters are hardly covered by lava flows. The material collected from the dark side could shed clearer light on how the Moon was formed.

On May 3, the “Chang’e 6” began its 53-day lunar mission. According to the plan, the soil samples will reach Earth around June 25. This is the sixth lunar mission by the Chinese since 2007. Most recently, “Chang’e 5” brought samples from the front of the moon to Earth for examination in 2020. Before that, in 2019, “Chang’e 4” was the first rover to land on the far side of the moon and explore the terrain there.

Attempts to land on the moon are considered extremely difficult. In the recent past, several lunar probes from India, Israel, Japan and Russia failed to reach their destination as planned.

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