Helsinki – China’s Chang’e-5 orbiter is heading to a gravitational stable point in space on an extended mission after delivering new lunar samples to Earth.
The spacecraft is now heading to the Sun-Earth Lagrange to make observations of the local environment and the sun and perform operational tests.
The orbiter Chang’e-5 left the lunar orbit on late December 12, along with a return capsule containing lunar samples. The two spacecraft separated about 5,000 kilometers from Earth on December 16, with the return capsule re-entering the atmosphere. Return capsule Real estate It is 12:59 east December 16th with 1,731 kg of lunar material.
Meanwhile, the orbiter performed an avoidance burn operation. It was not clear at first whether the avoidance burn indicated the avoidance of the return capsule or the Earth’s atmosphere.
Hu Hao, chief designer for the third phase (Sample Return) of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program, told China Central Television (ChineseDecember 20 that the orbiter is now on an extended mission to the Lagrange point between the sun and Earth.
Hu said the expanded mission was made possible thanks to orbital precision injection by the missile Long March 5 The launch vehicle, the same missile that failed in July 2017 and delayed the Chang’e-5 by three years. The Chang’e-5 orbiter has more than 200 kg of fuel remaining for further maneuvers.
While not specified, the Chang’e-5 orbiter is believed to enter orbit around L1, based on the indication of the planned solar observations. The orbit is equipped with optical imaging devices.
Hu said the team will decide another destination after carrying out tests and observations.
Chang’e Mission Extensions
Chang’e-2, who orbited and mapped the moon in 2010, later visited the Earth-Sun L2 Lagrangian Point to test the tracking and terrestrial networks. Then it flew past the asteroid 4179 Toutatis.
In 2014, the Chang’e-5 T1 orbiter was sent to test re-entry of the return capsule with an extended mission after performing its primary mission. This spacecraft has entered a halo orbit around the Earth’s Lagrange Point 2, taking pictures of the Earth and the moon, but it also indicates that China may line up on the side of the distant moon unprecedented with the Chang’e-4 spacecraft, then a second-hand backup to Chang’e -3 Successful. CE5-T1 also photographed candidate landing sites for suitable Chang’e-5 mission.
Possible future scenarios for the Chang’e-5 could include visiting the Sun-Earth L4 or L5 points. These triangular points of vibration are more stable than the other three points and can harbor objects close to the ground. Imaging devices can be used to scan the area in search of Trojan Earth objects.
Such objects would orbit in a common orbit with the Earth, but would lie 60 degrees before (L4) or behind (L5) the planet. In October 2021, NASA will launch Lucy, The first mission to visit Jupiter Trojans.
a a sheet Presented to the 2018 International Astronautics Conference suggested that Quikiao, the relay satellite that facilitates far-side communications between Earth and the moon for the Chang’e-4 mission, could be sent after the initial mission to Earth-moon L4 or L5 for a similar survey, citing great value to scientists Astronomers and engineers.
Meanwhile on Earth, the return capsule was transported to Beijing. The box containing the lunar samples was delivered to the Chinese Academy of Sciences before being prepared, analyzed and stored in a specially created facility.