Chang’e-5 Return Vehicle on Way Back to Earth

Box indicates Chang’e 5 lander on the basaltic plains of Oceanus Procellarum (“Ocean of Storms”) on 02 December 2020 09:54 EST (14:53:55 UTC). The lander is the bright spot in the center of the outline. The areas around the lander has been brightened due to the descent engine plume impingement on the surface (similar to what has been observed at other landing sites). Outline is 1210 meters wide; north is up. LROC NAC M1361560086R [Credits: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].

China’s Chang’e-5 is on its way back to Earth with precious samples of lunar regolith heading for a landing in Inner Mongolia later this week.

Chang’e-5’s orbiter and return capsule entered lunar-Earth transfer orbit on Sunday after a 22-minute burn of its engine. The vehicles made a mid-course correction with a 28-second burn on Monday.

The return capsule is carrying about 2.2 kg (4.4 lb) of lunar regolith obtained on the moon’s Ocean of Storms. This is China’s first attempt to return samples from another world.