China’s Chang’e 5 mission is one of the most exciting in recent years. In order to collect lunar samples for the first time in five decades, the Asian country sent Chang’e 5 to our satellite and is now bringing it back with two kilograms of samples. More or less, because part of the ship, after finishing its mission, has stayed on the Moon. And now that it is dark there, he is not having a good time.
Chang’e 5 is made up of various pieces and parts that have been crucial in each phase of the mission. The propeller to reach the moon, the lander, the capsule with the samples, the orbiter … Among these parts, the lander stands out , which was in charge of descending to the lunar surface, collecting the samples and helping to the capsule to return to the orbiter. For the latter, he sacrificed himself by staying on the Moon.
When we explained the launch of the mission, we advised of the importance of completing the mission in less than fourteen days. There was a reason for this, and that is that 14 days is what a “lunar day” lasts. China, with the aim of optimizing the mission as much as possible, did not equip the spacecraft with thermal protectors . This saves considerable weight and volume, but also risks and limits the mission to completion during the lunar day. Otherwise what has happened happens: freezing of all the circuits and parts of the ship.
China’s Chang’e mission: Cold lunar nights at -190 ° C
Now that has been done at night on the moon where it landed the lander , this has finished frozen at temperatures often drop to -190 ° C . By not having thermal protectors as the Chang’e 3 and Chang’e 4 landers do, the China’s Chang’e 5 has stopped responding and its internal systems have been damaged.
This loss of the lander is not a failure for the mission, in fact it is exactly what was planned. The lander has already done its job landing spectacularly well on the lunar surface, collecting data from there and helping the capsule return to the orbiter. The orbiter is now back towards Earth.
In addition to collecting about 2 kilograms of samples, the lander carried out different experiments with a radar that has provided information about the layers below the landing site. An imaging spectrometer analyzed the composition of the surface regolith and detailed photographs of Oceanus Procellarum, the area of the Moon where it landed, were also taken with a panoramic camera.
As the lander succumbs to the cold temperatures of the lunar night, the rest of the spacecraft is on its way to Earth with the collected samples. The capsule with the samples is expected to detach from the spacecraft and fall somewhere in Mongolia on December 17. If successful, and if the samples are safely collected by Chinese researchers, it will be the first time in nearly 50 years that humanity has done so again. Previously only the United States and the former Soviet Union have managed to bring lunar samples to Earth. Others like Japan have recently brought them from asteroids.