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China set to fetch some moon rocks

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Scientists estimate ages on the Moon and the rocky planets from the number of craters that pock their surfaces.

They have fixed dates from just nine places, all on the Moon: the six Apollo and three Soviet Luna sites from which samples were returned to laboratories on Earth.

China’s Chang’e-5 mission, set to launch on 24 November, aims to make it 10, by returning the first Moon rocks since the last Luna mission in 1976.

Full monty at Science Mag: Link

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Peter B

I see that it has launched.

I also see that the mission is using an Apollo-style process to run the mission: one spacecraft will stay in orbit around the Moon, while a second spacecraft will land on the Moon and scoop up a sample before blasting off back into orbit. The two spacecraft will dock, and some combination of the two will return to Earth to be retrieved.

The Soviet sample return missions back in the 1970s were single spacecraft - the samples were loaded into an ascent stage which blasted off from the Moon and travelled all the way back to the Earth.

Well, good luck to them.

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