China’s Chang’e 5 lunar probe is expected to land in the Mons Rumker region of the moon, and bring samples back to Earth at the end of the year, according to a Chinese space official.
Liu Jizhong, director of the China Lunar Exploration and Space Engineering Center of the China National Space Administration, disclosed the probe landing site, an isolated volcanic formation in the northwestern part of the moon’s near side.
Liu also mentioned China’s Chang’e 4 lunar probe in a report at the Global Space Exploration Conference, which opened in Beijing on June 6. He said China’s Chang’e 4 lunar probe, which is expected to be the first unmanned probe to land on the far side of the moon, would be launched in 2018, carrying 11 scientific experiments, including four developed by other countries.
He said lunar exploration offers many opportunities for international cooperation and that constructing an international moon village or international research station, an idea proposed by the European Space Agency, was also a long-term goal for China.
“China is planning and designing its future lunar exploration program. We will focus on the south pole region of the moon. The research on water and the permanent shadow area of the lunar south pole region will bring greater scientific discoveries,” Liu said.
He said that China would push forward international cooperation in exploring the south pole of the moon, constructing a lunar scientific research station, and establishing an energy supply and autonomous infrastructure.
Liu proposed jointly exploring the lunar polar region and constructing a scientific research station as a prototype or guide for the international moon village. He also proposed creating an open platform for cooperation in accordance with the principle of “sharing the risks and achievements”, and to set up the International Union of Planetary Scientists and the International Union of Planetary Science College Students.
Wu Yanhua, deputy chief of the China National Space Administration, honored at the conference the international partners of the Chang’e 4 mission, which will carry payloads from the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden and Saudi Arabia.
Since China first proposed international cooperation for the Chang’e 4 mission last year, it has received more than 20 plans from other countries.
“We support more international cooperation in China’s future lunar and Mars missions, as well as exploration of the Jupiter system and asteroids that are still under discussion,” Wu said.
“It is exactly what I was looking forward to,” said Jan Woerner, director general of the European Space Agency. “It will fit perfectly with the moon village-ESA’s vision for international cooperation on the moon.”