Context: Soon, China’s Chang’e-5 lunar mission will become the first probe in over four decades to bring back samples of lunar rock from a previously unexplored portion of the Moon. 


  • Earlier, China’s Chang’e-4 probe successfully provided images from the far side of the Moon (or dark side) in 2019. 
  • Chang’e-4 was the first probe to land in this portion of the Moon.
  • The first samples of rocks from the Moon were collected during the Apollo 11 mission. Also, the Soviet Union’s Luna probe collected soil samples from below the lunar surface. 

About the Chang’e-5 mission:

  • Lunar sample return mission: Named after the Chinese Moon goddess, it is the Chinese National Space Administration’s (CNSA) mission set to launch from the Wenchang Space Launch Center on Hainan Island in China  by Long March-5 rocket. 
  • The goal of the mission: To land in the Mons Rumker region of the moon, where it will operate for one lunar day (two weeks long) and return a sample of the lunar rock possibly by digging deep into the surface of the Moon.
  • Components: The mission comprises a lunar orbiter, a lander and an ascent probe that will lift the lunar samples back into orbit and return them back to Earth. 
    • It comprises a robotic arm, a coring drill, a sample chamber and is also equipped with a camera, penetrating radar and a spectrometer.

Significance of the mission:

  • Help to unravel some important questions: In lunar science and astronomy, including the Moon’s age, the formation of the Moon, the similarities and differences between the Earth and the Moon’s geologic features and history.
  • Can give information about the solar system itself: For example, the shape, size, arrangement and composition of individual grains and crystals in a rock can tell about the radiation history of the Sun.
  • Information about the Earth and the Moon’s shared history: As rocks found on the Moon are older than found on Earth.

Image Source: IE