Why in News?
- China is preparing to launch an unmanned spacecraft to bring back lunar rocks, the first attempt by any nation to retrieve samples from the moon in four decades.
About the Mission
- Beijing is hoping to have a crewed space station by 2022 and of eventually sending humans to the moon.
- The Chang’e-5 probe, named after the mythical Chinese moon goddess, aims to shovel up lunar rocks and soil to help scientists learn about the moon’s origins, formation and volcanic activity on its surface.
- It is the ongoing robotic Chinese lunar exploration mission consisting of a service module, lunar lander, ascender, and a sample-return vehicle.
- Mission’s focus will be on the moon’s origin, volcanic activity on its surface and its interior, and when its magnetic field dissipates, a key to protecting any form of life from the sun’s radiation.
- If the mission is successful, China would be the third country to have retrieved lunar samples, after the United States and the erstwhile Soviet Union.
- The Apollo programme of the United States landed astronauts on the Moon, bringing back rocks and soil.
- The Soviet Union project Luna did 3 successful robotic sample returns. The last, the Luna 24, retrieved samples from Mare Crisium, a lunar basin.
India’s Mission to Moon
- The Chandrayaan programme also known as the Indian Lunar Exploration Programme is an ongoing series of outer space missions by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). The programme incorporates lunar orbiter, impactor, soft lander and rover spacecraft.
- Chandrayaan-1, launched in 2008 aboard a PSLV-XL rocket, was a big success for ISRO as the Moon Impact Probe, a payload on board the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft, discovered water on the Moon. Apart from discovering water the Chandrayaan-1 mission performed several other tasks such as mapping and atmospheric profiling of the Moon.
- Chandrayaan-2 was launched in 2019 aboard a GSLV Mk III rocket. The spacecraft was successfully put into lunar orbit but the lander was lost while attempting to land. The orbiter is operational, collecting scientific data.
- Chandrayaan-3, which is set to launch in 2021, will be a mission repeat of Chandrayaan-2 but will only include a lander and rover similar to that of Chandrayaan-2. It will not have an orbiter. Realisation within schedule will make ISRO the world’s fourth space agency to conduct soft lunar landing after the administration of former USSR, NASA and China National Space Administration (CNSA).
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