China’s new moon mission, a rare example of countries working together

Sydney. The next phase of China’s carefully planned lunar exploration program is all systems “ready” for tonight’s launch. Mounted on top of a powerful Long March 5 rocket, the Chang’e 6 mission is scheduled to launch at 7:30 pm (AEST) from the Wenchang Space Launch Site on southern Hainan Island. It aims to be among the many missions exploring the Moon and to be the first in a competitive field. Chang’e 6 will be only the second mission to land on the far side of the moon, after Chang’e 4 successfully landed for the first time in 2019.

It is the latest mission in China’s successful and long-running lunar exploration program, which aims to prove new technological advancements with each mission. And this time, it is also an inspiring achievement of international cooperation. What’s on the far side of the Moon? The spacecraft was originally built as a backup to a previous mission – Chang’e 5 – which successfully brought back 1.73 kilograms of lunar regolith (soil) from a near-moon landing in 2020. However, the parameters of the Chang’e 6 mission are more ambitious and scientifically associated with greater anticipation. It is also a complex mission. Its four separate spacecraft will have to work in close coordination to successfully retrieve up to 2 kilograms of regolith from the far side of the Moon.

From our vantage point on Earth, the far side of the Moon is never visible. The Earth–Moon system is tidally locked: even though both rotate, we always see only one half of the Moon. When the Soviet Union’s Luna 3 probe brought the first photographs of the far side of the Moon in 1959, they showed a heavily cratered surface. This is quite different from the near side we are familiar with. This strange appearance, combined with samples brought back by NASA’s Apollo missions, provided some support for the popular ”Late Heavy Bombardment” theory.

Although this theory is not universally accepted, its proponents suggest that large numbers of meteorites and asteroids may have impacted the Solar System’s rocky planets (and their moons) early in their formation. Chang’e 6 aims to collect samples from the oldest lunar impact crater, the South Pole-Aitken Basin. Several recent missions to the Moon have targeted the southern polar region of the Moon. This was motivated, in part, by the discovery of water ice in the region’s dark craters and its potential exploitation for future lunar bases.

With this imminent sample return, we are now getting closer to knowing what the far side of the Moon is made of and what its age is. It will provide more detail than ever before. This could really help us understand the early history of the Solar System and whether the Late Heavy Bombardment theory needs to be reconsidered. Science Without Borders Any samples collected during this mission will be shared with the international community for in-depth analysis, just like Chang’e 5 samples and data from China’s other space science missions – including its recent high -High-resolution moon atlases also included.

In the current era of rising geopolitical tensions, the Chang’e 6 mission is a rare example of constructive international cooperation. The investigation includes equipment provided by France, Italy, Pakistan and Sweden. The Swedish payload was developed with funding from the European Space Agency (ESA). This may seem surprising given the current state of world affairs. But ESA and the Chinese Academy of Sciences share a history of joint space missions, although relations have deteriorated somewhat in recent years. A refreshing development From a scientific perspective, Chang’e 6’s international involvement is a refreshing development.

Scientists’ approaches are generally inspired by universal principles. We greatly value collaborative efforts regardless of one’s national origin. Science knows no boundaries. Space missions are just one example, Chinese scientists are advancing rapidly and increasingly leading global scientific achievements. Chinese prowess in science and technology has now reached a level that can no longer be ignored by international allies and competitors alike.

Yet real-world constraints in an increasingly geopolitically fraught environment impact our work as scientists, impact what we can share among colleagues internationally, and our practical decisions. This should be included in the intake. It is important to strike a careful balance between protecting national interests and the free flow of ideas that can ultimately lead to scientific breakthroughs.

Not every scientific exchange reaches a level that would require national security or foreign interference alerts. To summarize the Australian Government’s foreign relations policy, “Co-operate where we can; “We must exercise restraint where necessary.” The Change 6 Mission is an excellent example of this type of productive international partnership.

Disclaimer: CricketInFocus has not edited this news. This news has been published from PTI-language feed.

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