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Chang’e 5, the Chinese mission that collected lunar samples, is returning to the Moon, and we don’t know exactly why

China’s Chang’e 5 mission to the Moon made history in recent years by making China the third country to bring lunar samples to Earth. However, his tasks did not end there, but after successfully completing it, he continued exploring parts of the Solar System. Now, and without our knowing exactly why, he is returning to the Moon.

Chang’e 5 had lThe most intense moments of his mission during December 2020. The mission was launched from Earth on November 24 and a few days later it arrived and successfully landed on the Moon. Without wasting much time, he collected lunar samples and brought them to Earth by dropping them in a desert in Inner Mongolia. The mission was completed successfully.

Exploring the Solar System

But what happened to the ship after bringing in the samples? China sent the ship to Lagrange point 1, an area in the Solar System between the Sun and the Earth where gravity is strong enough on the part of both stars to allow the satellite to be stationary. China has been monitoring space with Chang’e 5 from there since last March.

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The views taken by Chang’e 5 of the Earth and the Moon from Lagrange point 1.

Things seem to have changed in the last few days. According to amateur observations (the Chinese space agency has not said anything yet), the ship has altered its position and appears to be heading back to the moon. The Beijing Aerospace Flight Control Center (BACC) is the one who controls the ship and its navigation, although at the moment they have not indicated why this change in position is due.

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There are different options and possible tasks for Chang’e 5. It could orbit the Moon again to collect more data, it could go on to orbit the Earth for the same or, as SpaceNews indicates, it could, for example, fly over the asteroid 469219 Kamoʻoalewa. This asteroid is in the sights of China, which wants to collect samples of asteroids near Earth in 2024. All these options depend especially on the propellant that the spacecraft has left and the capabilities it has to change its maneuvers.

Via | SpaceNews