The robot spacecraft, named the mythical Chinese lunar goddess Chang’e 5, will spend two days collecting soil and rock samples on the moon, guided by on-site mission inspections, China’s Xinhua State News Agency reported.
This is the first attempt since the 1970s to collect the rocks of the moon in any country.
The robot arm of the probe picks up rocks from the surface and a drilling machine drills into the ground to collect the soil. Samples expected to weigh approximately 2 kilograms (4.5 pounds) will be enclosed in the spacecraft tank.
If successful, the mission will only put the third country in China that has received lunar samples, following the United States and the former Soviet Union decades ago.
Astronauts from the United States under the Apollo program, it brought back 389 kilograms (842 pounds) of rock and soil between 1969 and 1972, while the Soviet Union collected 170.1 grams (6 ounces) of samples in 1976.
When the samples are returned to Earth, scientists will be able to analyze the structure, physical properties and material composition of the Moon’s soil, the Chinese space agency said.
The mission can help answer questions such as how long the moon has remained volcanically active inside it and when its magnetic field has dissipated – which is key to protecting any form of life from solar radiation.
A long rocket carrying the Chang’e-5 spacecraft, which runs until March 5, exploded on November 24 from the launch site of the Wenchang spacecraft on Hainan Island, off the south coast of China.
The spacecraft landed in a previously unvisited lunar area – a vast lava plain known as the Oceanus Procellarum or “Ocean of Storms.” This large dark spot, about 2,900 kilometers (1,800 miles) wide, could be a scar due to a huge cosmic impact that created an ancient sea of magma, according to NASA.
The landing is the third time a Chinese moon probe has successfully landed on the surface of the moon, the state Xinhua News Agency reported.
CNN staff Jessie Yeung and Mitchell McCluskey contributed to the report.