China second after US to plant flag on moon
China has become the second country in the world to plant its flag on the moon, over 50 years after the United States had first placed its own flag on the lunar surface. China's National Space Administration had released the images, clicked by a camera on the Chang'e 5 space probe before it returned from the moon on Thursday to Earth.
Chang'e landed on moon on Tuesday; brought back lunar rocks
The Chang'e 5 had successfully landed on the moon on Tuesday after its launch from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site on November 23 atop a Long March 5 rocket. The mission's aim was to bring back two-four kilograms of lunar dirt back to Earth. The Chinese five-starred Red Flag—two-meter wide and 90-centimeter tall—was placed on the lunar surface during the mission.
What makes this mission relevant?
China is the third nation to bring lunar rocks back to Earth after the US and Russia. However, the rocks brought back by the two nations are around 3.2 billion years old. Jonti Horner, an astronomer at the University of Southern Queensland, told ABC that the location from where the Chinese mission has brought back rocks would help scientists more accurately date the moon.
Mission also tested tech that could be handy in future
The Chinese mission also tested technologies that could help in future space missions. Andrew Jones, a space journalist who follows China's space program, pointed out that functions like navigation, landing, docking in space, and re-entering Earth will help with crewed missions in the future.
China has its eyes on Mars
China has said that it also plans to send manned missions to the moon and establish a permanent base there by the end of the decade. It is also planning a similar mission to Mars. The nation has already sent a spacecraft to the planet which is expected to touch down by May 2021. The mission hopes to bring back Martian material by 2030.