After landing on the moon’s Ocean of Storms on Tuesday, China’s Chang’e-5 lander got right to work collecting soil samples that will be returned to Earth.
The China National Space Administration (CNSA) reports that lander drilled into the lunar surface, extracted a sample, and sealed it up in a container. Chinese media report the hole was 2 meters (6.5 ft) deep.
Chang’e-5 will also collect samples using a robotic arm and scoop. The lander is expected to collect 2 kg (4.4 lb) of soil.
Once sample collection is completed, an ascender will lift off from the moon for a rendezvous and docking with the Chang’e-5 spacecraft in lunar orbit. Launch from the lunar surface could come on Thursday.
The soil samples will be transferred to a sample return vehicle which will travel back to Earth for a parachute landing in China some time in mid-December.
If successful, China will become only the third nation after the United States and the Soviet Union to return samples from the lunar surface.