Chang'e 6 mission enters lunar orbit, China hands over data from ICUBE-Q satellite to Pakistan. science news

The China National Space Agency (CNSA) has announced that the Chang'e 6 sample return mission has been successfully captured by lunar gravity. The spacecraft is now orbiting the Moon, and will attempt to land on the far side of the Moon at an appropriate opportunity. China has handed over the data of IQUBE-Q CubeSat to Pakistan.

An image of the Moon taken by Pakistan's IQUBE-Q CubeSat. (Image credit: CNSA).

New Delhi: China has announced that the Chang'e 6 probe has been successfully placed in its perihelion orbit. The spacecraft was successfully captured by lunar gravity at 10:12 a.m. Beijing time on May 10, 2023. Chang'e 6 successfully performed a cislunar braking maneuver before entering orbit around the Moon. Without this operation, the spacecraft would have flown past the Moon.

The braking process near the Moon was one of the key operations during the planned flight profile. Braking reduced the spacecraft's relative speed below escape velocity around the Moon, allowing the probe to be captured by lunar gravity. The spacecraft is supported by the Qiqiao 2 relay satellite that China launched in February. Chang'e 6 will now adjust the altitude and inclination of its orbit around the moon.

CNSA has announced that mission teams will select the appropriate time to separate the orbiter-returner combination from the lander-ascender elements. The lander-ascender component will attempt a soft landing on the southern rim of Apollo Crater, which is within the South Pole-Aitken Basin, one of the largest impact basins in the Solar System. Ascendant will then attempt to return samples from the far side of the Moon.

The Chang'e 6 mission was launched on May 3 aboard a Long March 5 carrier rocket, the largest and most powerful rocket in China's fleet. On board were payloads from Europe, as well as the IQUBE-Q satellite developed by the Institute of Space Technology in Pakistan and Shanghai Jiao Tang University in Pakistan.


CNSA chief Zhang Kejian handing over IQBE-Q data to Pakistani Ambassador to China Khalil-ur-Rehman Hashmi at a ceremony in Beijing on May 10, 2024. (Image credit: CNSA).

China handed over IQUBE-Q data to Pakistan

At a ceremony held in Beijing on May 10, CNSA chief Zhang Kejian handed over a data carrier to Pakistani Ambassador to China Khalil-ur-Rehman Hashmi. ICUBE-Q separated from the Chang'e 6 orbiter on May 8 to image the moon with a pair of cameras on board.

Ge Ping, deputy director of CNSA's Lunar Exploration and Space Engineering Center, said, “I believe this cooperation will be of great importance to promote friendly relations between the two countries and enrich people's understanding of the Moon. Is. We will share our scientific achievements to lay the foundation for future lunar exploration activities, which will be of great importance to foster the building of a global community with a shared future in outer space.

Pakistan is one of the many countries with which China is collaborating for the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS), and is actively working to engage partners. One of the key partners of this initiative is Russia. China has also included Egypt, Belarus, Thailand and South Africa.

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