China seeks to retrieve first Moon rocks since 1970s

China seeks to retrieve first Moon rocks since 1970s
It is hoped the unmanned Chang e-5 probe, to be launched on Tuesday, will bring back samples to help understand the Moon s origin and formation.

The last mission of its kind, Luna 24, was by the Soviet Union in 1976.

The Chang e-5 spacecraft- named after the ancient Chinese goddess of the Moon - will be launched by a Long March 5 rocket.

The probe attempt to collect 2kg of samples from an as yet unvisited area of the Moon named the Ocean of Storms.

In comparison, the 1976 mission collected 170 grams, and the Apollo mission that put man on the Moon brought back 382kg of rocks and soil.

image captionA Long March rocket will launch the lunar probe from the Wenchang space centre in Hainan province

Experts are hoping Chang e-5 will give a better understand how long the Moon remained volcanically active and when its magnetic field - essential in protecting any life from the Sun s radiation - dissipated.
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