China space probe returns with rare Moon rocks

China’s lunar probe has returned to Earth with the first ever samples from the Moon’s unexplored far side, the BBC reports.

The Chang’e-6 landed in the Inner Mongolia desert on Tuesday, after a nearly two-month long mission which was fraught with risks.

Scientists are eagerly awaiting the Chang’e-6 as the samples could answer key questions about how planets are formed.

China is the only country to have landed on the far side of the Moon, having done so before in 2019.

The far side – which faces away from Earth – is technically challenging to reach due to its distance, and its difficult terrain of giant craters and few flat surfaces.

Scientists are interested in this less-explored side as it is hoped it may contain traces of ice, which can be harvested for water, oxygen, and hydrogen.

The Chang’e-6 mission is a source of pride for a nation which has stepped up its missions to the Moon – drawing attention from its rival, the US.

State media showed officials planting the Chinese flag with a flourish just after the Chang’e-6 capsule landed in the desert of Inner Mongolia.

China’s President Xi Jinping has called to congratulate those at the command center of the Chang’e-6 mission.

Mr Xi said he hopes they can carry on exploring deep space and “reaching new heights in unravelling the mysteries of the universe… to benefit humanity and advance the nation”.

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