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Chang’e 6 UPSC NOTE

 What are the Chang’e missions?

  • China’s moon missions are called Chang’e, named for the goddess of the moon in Chinese mythology

  • The China National Space Administration (CNSA) launched the Chinese Lunar Exploration Programme (CLEP) in 2003, and the first Chang’e mission happened in 2007. 

  • Chang’e 1 created a map of the moon’s surface.

  • With Chang’e 2, CLEP launched phase I of its moon missions, and equipped the orbiter with a better camera.

  • The images taken by this camera were used to prepare the Chang’e 3 mission’s lander and rover for their descent on the moon, which they successfully achieved on December 14, 2013, and started CLEP’s phase II missions.

  • Chang’e 4 was a precursor to Chang’e 6: in 2019, it carried the first lander and the rover to descend on the moon’s far side and explore this relatively more mysterious region

  • Achieving this first required another spacecraft around the moon that could ‘talk’ between ground stations on the earth and the moon’s far side.

  • Phase III began with the Chang’e 5 mission. In late 2020, it deployed a lander on the moon’s near side. 

  • It included a mission component called an ascender, which, after collecting and stowing soil samples (specifically, the youngest volcanic lunar soil samples yet), launched itself into orbit

  • There, an orbiter collected the samples, transferred them to a returner, and the returner brought them to the earth.

  • CLEP’s second phase III mission, Chang’e 6 is attempting to replicate its predecessor’s feat — except from the moon’s far side. 

What is the far side?

  • The moon is tidally locked to the earth: the lunar hemisphere facing the earth will always face the earth, and the hemisphere facing away will always face away. 

  • The far side has rockier terrain and fewer smooth plains than the near side

  • Scientists believe this is because of heat released by the earth when the moon was forming and thermochemical characteristics of the moon’s near-side surface.

  • In effect, it’s harder to land a spacecraft on the far side — and more so since it’s impossible to communicate directly from the earth with a spacecraft here: there’s no line of sight.

  • The far side is also expected to be a good place to install large telescopes, which would have a view of the universe unobstructed by the earth. 

  • ISRO and scientists at the Raman Research Institute, Bengaluru, are currently working on such a telescope, called PRATUSH.

What is the status of Chang’e 6?

  • CNSA launched the 8.3-tonne Chang’e 6 orbiter-lander assembly on May 3, and it entered a lunar orbit on May 8. 

  • On May 30, the lander complex split from the orbiter and descended over a large crater called the Apollo Basin on June 1. 

  • Apollo itself lies within the much larger South Pole-Aitken Basin.

  • Once down and operational in the Apollo Basin, a drill plunged into the soil, and with help from a scoop extracted about 2 kg of far-side material, and transferred it to the ascender

  • On June 4, the ascender took off for moon orbit, where it’s expected to rendezvous with the orbiter, transfer the samples to a capsule in the returner, which is finally expected to return to the earth, crashing somewhere in Inner Mongolia on June 25

What might the samples reveal?

  • Scientifically, the far-side samples are expected to inform insights about why the moon is the way it is and the formation of planets.

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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Chang’e 6 UPSC NOTE
Chang’e 6 UPSC NOTE
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