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China is launching a moon probe to collect the first lunar rocks since 1970s

November 22, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

China plans to launch an unmanned spacecraft to the moon this week to bring back lunar rocks -- the first attempt by any nation to retrieve samples from Earth's natural satellite since the 1970s.

(CNN)China plans to launch an unmanned spacecraft to the moon this week to bring back lunar rocks -- the first attempt by any nation to retrieve samples from Earth's natural satellite since the 1970s.

The mission will test China's ability to remotely acquire samples from space, ahead of more complex missions.

If successful, the mission will make China only the third country to have retrieved lunar samples, following the United States and the Soviet Union decades ago.

The Soviet Union deployed three successful robotic sample return missions in the 1970s.

"The Apollo-Luna sample zone of the moon, while critical to our understanding, was undertaken in an area that comprises far less than half the lunar surface," said James Head, a planetary scientist at Brown University.

Subsequent data from orbital remote sensing missions have shown a wider diversity of rock types, mineralogies and ages than represented in the Apollo-Luna sample collections, he said.

"Lunar scientists have been advocating for robotic sample return missions to these many different critical areas in order to address a host of fundamental questions remaining from earlier exploration," Head said.

China plans to retrieve samples from Mars by 2030.

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