China’s Chang’e 5 enters lunar orbit for historic attempt to return moon samples

China’s Chang’e 5 spacecraft has entered orbit around the moon ahead of an historic attempt to collect samples from the moon and return to Earth.



a close up of the moon: An artist's illustration of China's Chang'e 5 moon orbiter entering lunar orbit for the country's first moon sample-return mission.


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An artist’s illustration of China’s Chang’e 5 moon orbiter entering lunar orbit for the country’s first moon sample-return mission.

The 18,100-lb. (8,200 kilograms) Chang’e 5 launched on a Long March 5 rocket on Monday (Nov. 23) from the country’s Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site on Hainan Island and reached the moon today (Nov. 28) after an 112-hour journey. 

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The Chang’e 5 orbiter module fired its main engine at 7:58 a.m. EST (1258 UTC; 8:58 p.m. Beijing time) when 249 miles (400 kilometers) away from the moon, the China Lunar Exploration Program announced just under an hour later.  

In pictures: China on the moon! A History of Chinese lunar missions

The spacecraft fired its 3,000-Newton engine for around 17 minutes. This slowed the spacecraft down enough to allow it to be captured by the moon’s gravity. 

The maneuver is a major step in the 23-day Chang’e mission that aims to deliver fresh lunar samples to Earth in mid-December. No such mission has been attempted since the Soviet Union’s Luna 24 mission in 1976.

During its journey to the moon radio enthusiasts have been tracking the spacecraft, and even managed to decode data sent back to Earth, revealing footage showing sunlight shining on a solar panel.

Related: The latest news about China’s space program

In the near future the mission lander will separate from Chang’e 5 orbiter and attempt to land near Mons Rümker in the western hemisphere of the moon. China has not released a time and date for the landing attempt, but lighting from the sun over the designated landing would allow an attempt as early as Sunday.

Mons Rümker is a peak with the huge volcanic plain of Oceanus Procellarum (“Ocean of Storms”). Some areas around the site are believed by scientists to be made of rock that is just over 1 billion years old. It is thought these areas were created by geologically recent volcanism and thus show fewer craters than older regions. By contrast the samples collected by the U.S. Apollo and Soviet Luna missions are all over 3 billion years old. 

The lander is equipped with both a drill and a scoop. Together they will collect around 4.4 lbs (2 kilograms) of lunar material which will be placed in a container aboard an ascent vehicle atop the lander. Around two days after the landing the ascent vehicle will take off and attempt to rendezvous and dock with the orbiter module waiting in lunar orbit. 

Pieces of heaven: A brief history of sample-return missions

Once docked, the ascent

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Lunar mission is latest milestone in China’s space ambitions

Lunar mission is latest milestone in China's space ambitions
A Long March-5 rocket carrying the Chang’e 5 lunar mission lifts off at the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Wenchang in southern China’s Hainan Province, early Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. China launched an ambitious mission on Tuesday to bring back material from the moon’s surface for the first time in more than 40 years—an undertaking that could boost human understanding of the moon and of the solar system more generally. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

China’s latest trip to the moon is another milestone in the Asian powerhouse’s slow but steady ascent to the stars.


China became the third country to put a person into orbit a generation ago and the first to land on the far side of the moon in 2019. Future ambitions include a permanent space station and putting people back on the moon more than 50 years after the U.S. did.

But even before the latest lunar mission lifted off before dawn Tuesday, a top program official maintained that China isn’t competing with anyone.

“China will set its development goals in the space industry based on its own considerations of science and engineering technology,” Pei Zhaoyu, deputy director of the Lunar Exploration and Space Engineering Center at the China National Space Administration, told reporters hours before the Chang’e 5 mission was launched.

“We do not place rivals (before us) when setting those goals,” Pei said.

Whether that is true or not is debatable. China has a national plan to seize global leadership in key technologies and the space program has been a major component of that. It also is a source of national pride to lift the reputation of the ruling Communist Party.

Lunar mission is latest milestone in China's space ambitions
A Long March-5 rocket carrying the Chang’e 5 lunar mission lifts off at the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Wenchang in southern China’s Hainan Province, early Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. China launched an ambitious mission on Tuesday to bring back material from the moon’s surface for the first time in more than 40 years—an undertaking that could boost human understanding of the moon and of the solar system more generally. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

What’s clear is that China’s cautious, incremental approach has racked up success after success since it first put a person in space in 2003, joining the former Soviet Union and the United States. That has been followed by more crewed missions, the launch of a space lab, the placing of a rover on the moon’s relatively unexplored far side and, this year, an operation to land on Mars.

The Chang’e 5 mission, if successful, would be the first time moon rocks and debris are brought to Earth since a 1976 Soviet mission. The four modules of the spacecraft blasted off atop a massive Long March-5Y rocket from the Wenchang launch center on Hainan island.

The mission’s main task is to drill 2 meters (about 7 feet) into the moon’s surface and scoop up about 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) of rocks and other debris. The lander will deposit them in an ascender. A

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Lunar mission is latest milestone in China’s space ambitions

A Long March-5 rocket carrying the Chang'e 5 lunar mission lifts off at the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Wenchang in southern China's Hainan Province, early Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. China launched an ambitious mission on Tuesday to bring back material from the moon's surface for the first time in more than 40 years — an undertaking that could boost human understanding of the moon and of the solar system more generally.

A Long March-5 rocket carrying the Chang’e 5 lunar mission lifts off at the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Wenchang in southern China’s Hainan Province, early Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. China launched an ambitious mission on Tuesday to bring back material from the moon’s surface for the first time in more than 40 years — an undertaking that could boost human understanding of the moon and of the solar system more generally.

AP

China’s latest trip to the moon is another milestone in the Asian powerhouse’s slow but steady ascent to the stars.

China became the third country to put a person into orbit a generation ago and the first to land on the far side of the moon in 2019. Future ambitions include a permanent space station and putting people back on the moon more than 50 years after the U.S. did.

But even before the latest lunar mission lifted off before dawn Tuesday, a top program official maintained that China isn’t competing with anyone.

“China will set its development goals in the space industry based on its own considerations of science and engineering technology,” Pei Zhaoyu, deputy director of the Lunar Exploration and Space Engineering Center at the China National Space Administration, told reporters hours before the Chang’e 5 mission was launched.

“We do not place rivals (before us) when setting those goals,” Pei said.

Whether that is true or not is debatable. China has a national plan to seize global leadership in key technologies and the space program has been a major component of that. It also is a source of national pride to lift the reputation of the ruling Communist Party.

What’s clear is that China’s cautious, incremental approach has racked up success after success since it first put a person in space in 2003, joining the former Soviet Union and the United States. That has been followed by more crewed missions, the launch of a space lab, the placing of a rover on the moon’s relatively unexplored far side and, this year, an operation to land on Mars.

The Chang’e 5 mission, if successful, would be the first time moon rocks and debris are brought to Earth since a 1976 Soviet mission. The four modules of the spacecraft blasted off atop a massive Long March-5Y rocket from the Wenchang launch center on Hainan island.

The mission’s main task is to drill 2 meters (about 7 feet) into the moon’s surface and scoop up about 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) of rocks and other debris. The lander will deposit them in an ascender. A return capsule will deliver them back to Earth, landing on the grasslands of the Inner Mongolia region in mid-December.

“Pulling off the Chang’e 5 mission would be an impressive feat for any nation,” said Florida-based expert Stephen Clark of the publication Spaceflight Now.

China prides itself on arriving at this point largely through its own efforts, although Russia helped early on with astronaut training and China’s crewed Shenzhou space

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Lunar Mission Is Latest Milestone in China’s Space Ambitions | World News

By SAM McNEIL, Associated Press

WENCHANG, China (AP) — China’s latest trip to the moon is another milestone in the Asian powerhouse’s slow but steady ascent to the stars.

China became the third country to put a person into orbit a generation ago and the first to land on the far side of the moon in 2019. Future ambitions include a permanent space station and putting people back on the moon more than 50 years after the U.S. did.

But even before the latest lunar mission lifted off before dawn Tuesday, a top program official maintained that China isn’t competing with anyone.

“China will set its development goals in the space industry based on its own considerations of science and engineering technology,” Pei Zhaoyu, deputy director of the Lunar Exploration and Space Engineering Center at the China National Space Administration, told reporters hours before the Chang’e 5 mission was launched.

“We do not place rivals (before us) when setting those goals,” Pei said.

Whether that is true or not is debatable. China has a national plan to seize global leadership in key technologies and the space program has been a major component of that. It also is a source of national pride to lift the reputation of the ruling Communist Party.

What’s clear is that China’s cautious, incremental approach has racked up success after success since it first put a person in space in 2003, joining the former Soviet Union and the United States. That has been followed by more crewed missions, the launch of a space lab, the placing of a rover on the moon’s relatively unexplored far side and, this year, an operation to land on Mars.

The Chang’e 5 mission, if successful, would be the first time moon rocks and debris are brought to Earth since a 1976 Soviet mission. The four modules of the spacecraft blasted off atop a massive Long March-5Y rocket from the Wenchang launch center on Hainan island.

The mission’s main task is to drill 2 meters (about 7 feet) into the moon’s surface and scoop up about 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) of rocks and other debris. The lander will deposit them in an ascender. A return capsule will deliver them back to Earth, landing on the grasslands of the Inner Mongolia region in mid-December.

“Pulling off the Chang’e 5 mission would be an impressive feat for any nation,” said Florida-based expert Stephen Clark of the publication Spaceflight Now.

China prides itself on arriving at this point largely through its own efforts, although Russia helped early on with astronaut training and China’s crewed Shenzhou space capsule is based on Russia’s Soyuz.

While there has been collaboration with some other nations, notably those belonging to the European Space Agency, which has provided tracking support for Chinese missions, the United States isn’t one of them.

U.S. law requires Congressional approval for cooperation between NASA and China’s military-linked program. Ongoing political and economic disputes, notably accusations that China steals or compels the transfer of sensitive trade

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China’s daring mission to grab Moon rocks is underway

A Long March-5 rocket carrying the Chang'e 5 lunar mission lifts off at the Wenchang Space Launch Center in China

A Long March-5 rocket carrying Chang’e 5 lifts off.Credit: Mark Schiefelbein/AP/Shutterstock

A Chinese spacecraft is on its way to the Moon after launching off the coast of Hainan Island, in southern China, this morning at 4:30 AM local time.

Chang’e-5’s mission is to retrieve rocks from the Moon and return them to Earth. If successful, the craft will be the first to collect lunar material in 44 years — and a first for China, ushering in the next phase of its increasingly complex lunar exploration programme. Several Chang’e spacecrafts, which are named after a Chinese Moon goddess, have reached and touched down on the Moon, including landing on its far side.

Chang’e-5 blasted off from Wenchang Satellite Launch Center aboard the Chinese Long March-5 rocket, and began its 800,000 kilometre roundtrip to the Moon, which will take about three weeks.


“I just left the coast after seeing the rocket take off. I was so excited, and tears filled my eyes,“ says Xiao Long, a planetary geologist at the China University of Geosciences in Wuhan. “This will greatly encourage people, especially the younger generation to study and explore the worlds beyond our Earth.“

Clive Neal, a geoscientist at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, says if successful, the mission marks the beginning of a new era of robotic sample returns from the Moon that will undoubtedly change scientists’ understanding of the planetary body. “Now we wait for the samples to be collected and returned.“

The Chinese National Space Administration-led mission is receiving communications support from the European Space Agency to track the spacecraft’s journey through deep space, and on its return to Earth in mid-December.

Change’e-5 weighs some 8,200 kilograms and contains a lander, ascender, orbiter and returner. The craft is expected to arrive at the Moon within days. Once in lunar orbit, the lander and ascender will descend to the Moon’s surface. A couple of hundred metres above ground, the probe will hover and use its camera to survey the surface for any hazards such as large boulders and to identify a safe place for the lander and ascender to touch down.

A model of Chang'e-5 lunar probe

A model of the Chang’e-5 probe on its way to the Moon.Credit: Liang Xu/Xinhua/Alamy

The proposed landing site is a 55,000 square-kilometre area in the north-western region of the expansive lava plains known as Oceanus Procellarum, on the Moon’s near side. The precise location won’t be determined until after Chang’e-5 reaches lunar orbit, but it is likely to be in the eastern area that contains some of the youngest volcanic material, says James Head, a planetary geoscientist at Brown University in Rhode Island.

This area is of particular interest to scientists because it could confirm whether the Moon was still volcanicaly active some one to two billion years ago. The age of the rocks is not yet known, but remote observations of the lunar surface suggest that the rocks are roughly two billion years younger than the lava samples collected by the United States and

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China’s most important trees are hiding in plain sight

China's most important trees are hiding in plain sight
Picture of treetops Credit: Harvard Forest

In ecosystems around the globe, the danger of being a common or widespread species is the tendency to be overlooked by conservation efforts that prioritize rarity.


In forests, the most common species can be essential to ecosystem structure and function, which crumble with the decline of these pivotal trees, known collectively as foundation species.

In an effort to identify forest foundation species and elevate their conservation status before they disappear, a unique research collaboration between Chinese and American scientists has synthesized long-term biodiversity data from 12 immense forest study plots spanning 1,500 miles, from China’s far north to its southern tropics.

Their results, published today in the journal Ecology, point to maple trees—long appreciated for their autumn foliage and the syrup that graces our tables—as potential foundation species in both China and North America.

The study comes on the heels of the latest “Red List” published by Botanic Gardens Conservation International, which showed that 36 out of the 158 maples species worldwide—nearly a quarter of all maples—are at high risk of extinction in the near future in the wild. Fourteen of those high-risk species exist only in China.

“Foundation species are the species upon which ecosystems are built and supported, just like the foundation of your house,” explains Aaron Ellison, Senior Research Fellow at the Harvard Forest and a co-author of the study. “But they can be so common that they hide in plain sight, overlooked because they lack the cachet and appeal of rarities.”

The study was led by Xiujuan Qiao, an Associate Professor at the Wuhan Botanical Garden of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who spent all of 2019 in residence at the Harvard Forest facilitating this global collaboration. She adds, “We should pay more attention to foundation species, identifying and protecting them before their inevitable decline.”


Researchers find new distinct species in Chaozhou, Guangdong Province


More information:
Xiujuan Qiao et al, Foundation Species Across a Latitudinal Gradient in China, Ecology (2020). DOI: 10.1002/ecy.3234
Provided by
Harvard University

Citation:
China’s most important trees are hiding in plain sight (2020, October 30)
retrieved 30 October 2020
from https://phys.org/news/2020-10-china-important-trees-plain-sight.html

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no
part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Source Article

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As China’s economy picks up, new university grads are still looking for jobs

Graduates attend the commencement ceremony at Beihang University in Beijing, capital of China, June 29, 2020.

Ren Chao | Xinhua News Agency via Getty Images

BEIJING — As China presses on with its economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, new university graduates are still trying to catch up.

By official and third-party accounts, the class of 2020 — at a record high of 8.74 million students — is having a harder time finding jobs than last year’s graduates.

There’s been a clear decline in hiring by the consumer goods industry, manufacturing, software and information technology services as a result of Covid-19’s spread, according to a report on prospects for China’s new graduates. The report “University Alumni Insights: Chinese Graduate Career Development Prospects 2020” was released Thursday by LinkedIn China and Beijing-based think tank Center for China and Globalization (CCG).

On the other hand, the health care, distance learning and legal industries have been less affected by the pandemic, and the number of people they are recruiting has remained relatively stable, the report said.

In fact, the analysis found there is a shortage of talent in the transportation and logistics, media and education sectors.

Covid-19 first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, before spreading quickly within the country in January and February. Authorities temporarily shut down more than half the country in February.

The outbreak stalled domestically in March, but by that time, the coronavirus had spread rapidly overseas in a global pandemic. China’s economy contracted 6.8% in the first quarter. While officials are optimistic about the subsequent recovery, they remain cautious about uncertainty from the coronavirus’ continued spread abroad.

There will be more and more (study abroad) returnees… For them to return to China to get jobs, they face lots of challenges.

Miao Lu

vice president, Center for China and Globalization

“There are certainly many higher-education graduates who are still looking for jobs, and the class of 2021 will soon enter the job market,” Zhang Ying, director of the employment promotion department at the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, said Wednesday, according to a CNBC translation of her Mandarin-language remarks.

Zhang said the government will continue to add policy support, including expansion of hiring by state-owned enterprises. She noted the public sector has absorbed 2.8 million of the graduates.

Graduates attend the commencement ceremony at Beihang University in Beijing, capital of China, June 29, 2020.

Ren Chao | Xinhua News Agency via Getty Images

Earlier this month, the National Bureau of Statistics said an unspecified unemployment rate for 20- to 24-year-olds holding at least a college degree — primarily new graduates — was 4 percentage points higher in September than a year ago, despite falling slightly from August.

Overall unemployment for urban areas as measured by an official survey — which many economists doubt the accuracy of —showed the rate fell to 5.4% in September from 5.6% in August. Anecdotally, many workers have had their pay cut or deferred. The statistics bureau said late

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China’s First Marine Ranch Platform is Anchored Off Yantai, China

The Genghai No 1, China’s first ecological marine ranch platform, is anchored off the coast of Yantai, Shandong Province, on Thursday, October 29, 2020. The new intelligent complex makes use of artificial intelligence, clean energy, 5G communications, big data, underwater patrol robots and is equipped with an automatic system for environmental monitoring and ship collision prevention. It serves as a comprehensive platform for fish breeding, tourism, marine biology and research. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI

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International collaboration reveals China’s carbon balance

International collaboration reveals China's carbon balance
Southwest China is populated by fast-growing and high-yielding tree species with high potential biomass carbon sequestration. Credit: Yaogao Huang

An international team of researchers has compiled and verified newly available data on the country’s CO2 sink, and, for the first time, they have quantitatively estimated the effect of China’s carbon mitigation efforts.


The researchers published their results on October 28 in Nature.

“China is currently one of the world’s major emitters of CO2, but China’s forest resources have been growing continuously for the past 30 years,” said paper author Yi Liu, professor with the Institute of Atmospheric Physics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. “In this study, we achieve a better understanding of CO2 fluxes over China.”

Previously, the CO2 monitoring stations on the ground over China were few and far between, resulting in CO2 flux estimates with large uncertainties. One monitoring station could represent a significant area that included distinctly different land use types. The lack of data resulted in fewer studies on CO2 in China, as well.

“Therein lies the crux of the challenge faced by science and policy communities: effective mitigation of fossil fuel CO2 emissions within a large-scale dynamic natural carbon cycle that we do not quantitatively understand,” Liu said.

“Without good data, it was nearly impossible to assess how China’s forestry efforts to mitigate CO2 emissions were actually faring,” added Jing Wang, lead author of the study from the same institute.

That changed when the China Meteorological Administration started collecting weekly and hourly continuous atmospheric CO2 measurements between 2009 and 2016 available.

Liu and his team found that, between 2010 and 2016, China reabsorbed about 45% of the country’s estimated annual human-made CO2 emissions.

They corroborated that data with independent satellite remote-sensing measurements of vegetation greenness, soil water availability, satellite column observations of CO2 and forest censuses.

“While our results still have large uncertainties, it’s clear that China’s forest ecosystem has a huge carbon sequestration effect,” said paper author Paul I. Palmer from the School of GeoSciences at the University of Edinburgh in the UK.

The researchers plan to fine tune their results with more ground and satellite data, with the ultimate goal of improving their calculation methods to be able to determine the carbon budget of smaller areas, such as cities.


A new look into the sources and impacts of greenhouse gases in China


More information:
Large Chinese land carbon sink estimated from atmospheric carbon dioxide data, Nature (2020). DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-2849-9, www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2849-9
Provided by
Chinese Academy of Sciences

Citation:
International collaboration reveals China’s carbon balance (2020, October 28)
retrieved 28 October 2020
from https://phys.org/news/2020-10-international-collaboration-reveals-china-carbon.html

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no
part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Source Article

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How the pandemic made China’s tough college entrance exam even more stressful — and inequitable

This year, during the pandemic, things got much worse for Chinese students, as explained in this story by Rayna Song, a journalism student at Northwestern University. She spent two months researching the story, interviewing more than 30 people. It’s a fascinating look at a college admissions process even more frenzied than the one in this country.

By Rayna Song

Eighteen-year-old Jing Lin never dreamed that a virus would completely disrupt her meticulously designed plans to ace the gaokao, China’s college entrance exam. She saw an excellent score on the test as a ticket to a top university — and a better life.

When, like 10 million other high school seniors in China, she needed to switch to online classes from early February to early April because of the national lockdown amid covid-19, she found herself at a disadvantage. Whereas her wealthier peers could hire private tutors or pay for web preparation programs, she could only study in her noisy apartment with poor Internet connection.

“During online classes, I usually studied on the balcony, because there are five people in my home, and the balcony is much quieter,” Lin said. “Late at night, I studied on the balcony as well, and the LED desk lamp provided enough lighting. On average, I spent six hours studying during daytime, and three hours after nightfall.”

After April, most Chinese high schools resumed in-person classes for the graduating class in light of the declining number of positive cases in this country with more than 1.4 billion people. Lin recently graduated from a public school in Fujian, a southern province separated from Taiwan by a 110-mile strait. In her senior year, Lin lived with her parents and her paternal grandparents in a 16th floor apartment. In the end, she got into Hainan Tropical Ocean University, located on Hainan Island, 14 miles off mainland China. She said she would have done better in the exam, if 2020 had been normal.

The year 2020 stands out in many ways. Almost every high school senior in China took two months of online classes before taking the gaokao, and the Chinese Ministry of Education extended the exam date by a month, moving the first day from June 7 to July 7.

Despite these measures, gaokao 2020 widened the gap between the haves and the have nots, as the wealthier students could afford quiet rooms in their own homes and expensive private lessons, while the less privileged students had few choices other than taking the online classes offered by their high schools.

High school seniors traditionally take this exam after one year of preparation, and unlike the SAT or ACT exams, they only get one chance to take the exam each year. If they are unsatisfied with the score obtained, then they must spend one more year in high school and retake the exam the following year. Gaokao lasts three to four days, with different subjects tested on each day.

Besides Chinese, math and English, the student has some flexibility

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