After weeks of space travel, China’s Chang’e-5 probe has come back to Earth with fresh lunar rock and soil samples.
The precious cargo is the first lunar samples humanity has obtained in over four decades.
The returner capsule landed at the designated site in China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
Zhang Kejian, head of the China National Space Agency, declared Chang’e-5 mission a success, marking the conclusion of China’s current three-step lunar exploration program of orbiting, landing, and bringing back samples. The program began in 2004.
As planned, the capsule with lunar samples inside will be transported to Beijing by air and opened at the Lunar Sample Laboratory at the National Astronomical Observatory under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, which has been built specially for its storage, processing and analysis.
The lab has special facilities that will prevent the sample from being contaminated by the atmosphere and water on Earth.