Foreign scientists thank China for sharing lunar exploration opportunity – Xinhua

This image, taken from a video animation at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center (PACC) on June 2, 2024, shows the lander-climber assembly of the Chang’e-6 probe landing on the far side of the moon. (Xinhua/Jin Liwang)

BEIJING, June 3 (Xinhua) — After China’s Chang’e-6 touched down on the far side of the moon Sunday morning to collect samples, foreign scientists participating in the mission expressed their excitement and gratitude for taking their scientific instruments to the moon. .

The Chang’e-6 mission carried four payloads developed through international collaboration, providing greater opportunities for scientists worldwide and pooling human expertise in space exploration.

The Chang’e-6 lander carries science instruments from France, Italy and the European Space Agency (ESA)/Sweden.

„Thank you very much to China for taking us to the moon,” French astronomer Sylvester Maurice of the University of Toulouse said after watching the landing process in a control room at the National Astronomical Laboratories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences on Sunday.

„Today’s landing was absolutely amazing. It’s hard to land on a planet, especially on the Moon. Don’t think it’s easy. Remember that it’s on the far side of the Moon where we can’t see. We put another relay satellite to see the landing where they wanted it, and it’s an achievement, we We have been searching for years.

Supported by the Queqiao-2 relay satellite, the lander-climber combination of the Chang’e-6 probe successfully landed at the designated landing area in the South Pole-Aitken (SPA) basin at 6:23 am (Beijing time). to the China National Space Administration.

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„The far side of the Moon is very unique. The South Pole-Aitken Basin is a large basin. There was an impact a long time ago that removed most of the crust, so we could have landed as close to the crust as possible. The Moon,” Maurice said.

„As planetary scientists, the best thing we can dream of is having samples in our lab. There’s nothing better than having samples here where we can study them and really go into the details of the Moon’s story,” Maurice said.

He mentioned that French scientists have returned a lunar sample through the Chang-5 mission and are conducting research on it.

„We are very fortunate to cooperate with China on various projects, including the Chang’e lunar program and the Tianwen-1 Mars mission,” he added.

Mathieu Grialou, a representative of the French space agency CNES, said Chang’e-6 will be the first mission to bring back samples from the far side of the moon. „We are very excited to be a small part of this very large mission.”

„Because China is now a big player in space, we are very happy to cooperate with China on this mission,” Crialo said. „It’s great that together we can contribute to better knowledge of the Moon and our solar system.”

The Detection of Outgassing Radon (DORN) instrument, developed by French scientists and on board the Chang’e-6 lander, will detect radon isotopes and study the exchange and diffusion mechanisms of volatile compounds in the lunar atmosphere.

Pierre-Yves Meslin, DORN’s principal investigator from France, who witnessed the landing of Chang’e-6, said: „We have been thinking about this moment for years, more intensely in the last few months and weeks and days. We were there. I look at the moon every night in Beijing.”

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„We are very excited to be on the surface of the moon. Our instrument will start working. Now the pressure will be on to succeed in our measurements,” Meslin said.

He said the purpose of the instrument is to study the origin and dynamics of the lunar exosphere. It will attempt to measure a radioactive gas called radon produced by lunar rocks in the Moon’s interior. „This gas can migrate from the warm regions of the moon to the cold regions of the moon, and we will try to understand its dynamics in the lunar environment. This is the first time we have measured it on the surface of the moon.”

He noted that his team had a short time frame of only 3.5 years to develop the instrument. „The schedule was very tight, but with the help of our Chinese partners we succeeded.”

„It is always good to share ideas with different countries, which allows us to go forward to enrich our knowledge. We, as Europeans, do not yet have the ability to place our instruments on the surface of the Moon. So we rely on international. Partners, China is now one of the most reliable partners for a safe landing on the Moon, because today there is still a source There is,” Meslin said.

Patrick Binet, a scientist at the University of Toulouse, said the landing of Chang’e-6 looks smooth and easy, but it relies on a lot of hard work and high skills. „We are very impressed with what China has achieved again this time.”

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„It was a very moving time for me,” he said, adding that when he was 10 years old, he saw Neil Armstrong’s moon landing on television, his first experience today. Moon in a control room in China. „It’s 55 years later, and a lot has evolved over time.”

„We are really looking forward to some success in this mission and the next ones to come,” he added.

The Chang’e-6 spacecraft lander also carried an instrument called the Negative Ions on the Lunar Surface (NILS), developed by ESA/Sweden to the Moon, to detect negative ions and study interactions between plasmas. and lunar surface.

Neil Melville-Kenney, ESA’s NILS technical officer, said CNSA’s initiative to invite international partners to participate in the Chang’e-6 mission is highly appreciated by the international community.

„It’s a very interesting mission, a very ambitious mission. So we’re very happy to be a part of it. And the collaboration went very smoothly. Now we’re waiting for the payload to be launched so that we can get our first data,” he said.

„It is very important to have international cooperation for space exploration. I think space exploration encourages us to think of our planet as one and our people as one. And it is important that we work together as we begin to explore more of the solar system. Together we can achieve great things,” he added.

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