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North China readies for homecoming of Chang'e-5's capsule

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2020-12-16 08:14:43Xinhua Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

A graphic simulation shows the orbit of the orbiter and returner combination of China's Chang'e-5 probe after its separation from the ascender. (CNSA/Handout via Xinhua)

As the Chang'e-5 probe will bring moon samples back to Earth, its preset landing site in Siziwang Banner in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region is ready for its return, according to the search and retrieval team of the mission on Tuesday.

To meet the challenges brought by harsh weather, heavy snow, the small size of the return capsule and the special returning method, the search and retrieval team in the landing site has conducted several drills to test its night-time searching abilities and equipment performance.

The return capsule of Chang'e-5 probe is only one-seventh the size of the return capsule of China's manned spaceship, however, its landing area is 16 times larger, adding difficulties to the search mission.

According to Bian Hancheng from the search team, the probe on the Chang'e-5 return capsule will adopt a skip reentry method mimicking a skipping stone, which will make it difficult to control and result in a particularly large retrieval area.

The search team has taken many technical measures to face those challenges. The processed radar data will be sent to the helicopters and vehicles to guide them in the retrieval of the capsule.

The team also conducted nearly 30 terrain surveys of the landing area.

Chang'e-5 is one of the most complicated and challenging missions in China's aerospace history. It is also the world's first moon-sample mission in more than 40 years.

The Chang'e-5 probe, comprising of an orbiter, lander, ascender and a returner, was launched on Nov. 24, and its lander-ascender combination touched down on the north of the Mons Rumker in Oceanus Procellarum, also known as the Ocean of Storms, on the near side of the moon on Dec. 1.

The returner of the probe is expected to land at the Siziwang Banner in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in mid-December.

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