After the Chinese automatic interplanetary station Chang’e 5 landed on the surface of the moon yesterday, many space fans were disappointed by the first images. I read all sorts of complaints on social networks: that the photos are in low resolution, that the smartphone makes better images, that they are in black and white, etc.
Not to mention that the original broadcast which was planned and promised was cut down shortly before the landing. Yes, the Chinese Agency released video footage of the whole operation minutes later but I assume they cut the original broadcast in order to be sure that everything goes according to plan. After all, the Chinese do not want to embarrass themselves and there is always a chance for failure with space missions.
— Jonathan Amos (@BBCAmos) December 1, 2020
What people failed to notice was that these were the FIRST images from Chang’e 5 taken during its descent and shortly after landing. These were photos taken by the engineering cameras, not the main scientific cameras.
They were sent to Earth in almost real-time and are not really very remarkable, but they are valuable because they served to show the team whether the lunar cycle was going according to plan and when exactly the lunar surface was reached.
But now that the landing is over, the situation is different: Chang’e 5 is on the surface, the critical phase is over, the solar panels are deployed, the scientific instruments are activated – including the main cameras. They took detailed photos that helped create a high-resolution color panorama, and there should be no reason to complain that the image is not detailed enough.
I definitely need to mention that this new Chang’e 5 panorama image is 150,000 by 7,947 pixels which is absolutely mental if I can express myself like that. You can see it below. Honestly, there is no way we can complain about it now, right?
Moreover, Chang’e 5 successfully collected samples from the tops and insides of the regolith today which is visible in the images from the video below. Chinese television has also released new footage revealing curious details of the robotic expedition’s work.
According to Xinhua News Agency, Chang’e 5 used two methods to collect material. The first is through a drilling machine that digs 2 meters below the lunar surface. The second is through a special robotic arm and a shovel attached to it.
Chinese media also released images showing the container of “Chang’e 5”, which shows that it already contains collected rocks and soil.
Now, that we saw the best images from Chang’e 5 to date, I would like to remind you about the mission itself. If you haven’t read the news or our latest article on the Chinese mission from yesterday, that Chang’e 5 will be the first two-way flight to the surface of the Moon and back to Earth after more than four decades. The last successful attempt to bring lunar soil back to Earth for experiments and research was in 1976.
Since then, just like the general interest in the Moon decreased, there have been no similar missions until this one now. Furthermore, it is important to mention that the soil which is targeted this time will be significantly younger in age than all previous samples.
In other words, this mission will be a major success if it returns to Earth with enough soil samples.
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Amos, J. (2020, December 02). China’s Chang’e-5 Moon mission returns colour pictures. Retrieved December 02, 2020, from https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-55160768?fbclid=IwAR1wDLrXQCORKagQup42twgi9o1oS29K3qP1aqBXtG6ZjGQj0bnHJi1dF50
Jones, A. (2020, December 02). Amazing panorama shows China’s Chang’e 5 landing site on the moon (photos). Retrieved December 02, 2020, from https://www.space.com/china-chang-e-5-moon-landing-site-panorama-photos
Wall, M. (2020, December 01). China’s Chang’e 5 lands on the moon to collect the 1st fresh lunar samples in decades. Retrieved December 02, 2020, from https://www.space.com/china-chang-e-5-lands-on-moon-to-collect-lunar-samples