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China’s lunar probe is retrieving samples from the far side of the Moon

A photo showing the launch of China’s Chang ‘e-6 probe
A Long March 5 carrier rocket launched the Chang ‘e 6 probe into space on May 3rd. | Photo: CFOTO / Future Publishing via Getty Images

China’s Chang’e 6 spacecraft successfully landed on the far side of the Moon — and it plans to bring back soil and rock samples to Earth for the first time.

The probe touched down on the Moon’s South Pole–Aitken Basin, which faces away from Earth, at 6:23AM Beijing time, according to the China National Space Administration (CNSA). It used laser 3D scanning and an autonomous avoidance system to detect obstacles before landing. You can see the probe make its careful descent to the lunar surface in the video embedded below.

Video: China National Space Administration

It will take the Chang’e 6 about two days to take the samples from the Moon’s surface using a scoop and drill. The probe is also carrying payloads from the European Space…

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