Showing posts from December, 2020

China lands its Moon rocks in Inner Mongolia Source:  By   Paul Voosen , Science Magazine.  Excerpt: China’s Chang’e-5 mission made a triumphant return around 1 p.m. EST today, landing in the middle of the night on the dark frozen plains of Inner Mongolia, Chinese   state media reported . The capsule’s return marks the first time China has collected rocks from the Moon—and the first time any nation has accomplished the feat since 1976. The 3-week-long mission   was the most complicated   in the history of China’s robotic space exploration program, involving a lunar landing, furious scooping and drilling of up to 2 kilograms of grit, and then an ascent and rendezvous with an orbiter, which carried the samples back to Earth. The China National Space Administration, typically secretive with its missions, showed growing confidence in its space program, with live broadcasts of the rocket launch and return of its sample capsule, which glowed bright whit

Japan’s Hayabusa2 capsule lands with carbon-rich asteroid samples Source:    By  Dennis Normile , Science Magazine.  Excerpt: Japan has once again retrieved samples from a distant asteroid, which scientists will scrutinize for clues about the ancient delivery of water and organic molecules to Earth. The return capsule of the Hayabusa2 mission—about the size and shape of a wok—parachuted to a landing in the red desert sand of Woomera, Australia, in the early morning of 6 December, after a nearly 5.3-billion-kilometer trip to the asteroid Ryugu. A helicopter team homed in on a radio beacon and found the capsule intact. Launched in 2014 by the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Hayabusa2 spent 18 months circling Ryugu, making remote observations of  the diamond-shaped rubble pile . It also released several tiny rovers that hopped on the surface gathering data. After identifying safe spots amid