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Experts expect major contributions from mission

By Zhao Lei | China Daily | Updated: 2020-11-25 09:00

Chang'e 5, China's heaviest and largest lunar probe. [PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY]

Space experts and educators from around the world are closely following the Chang'e 5 mission and are optimistic it can achieve its targets.

Professor Martin Sweeting, a fellow of the Royal Society of the United Kingdom and a distinguished professor of space engineering at the University of Surrey, said the international science community has been looking forward to the mission and the first collection of lunar samples since 1976.

He said following China's extremely successful Chang'e 4 mission to the moon's far side, lunar samples collected by Chang'e 5 will make "further important contributions" to global knowledge of the composition of previously unexplored near-side regions.

"This mission is particularly relevant considering the renewed interest in the moon following the discovery of water trapped in cold locations of the surface and intensive international preparations for humans to return to the moon," Sweeting said. "China's contribution to this international effort will be very important, much welcomed and greatly valued."

Bonnie Thurber from the Spac-Edge Academy, an educational program under the United States' National Space Society, said: "I am very excited about Chang'e 5. I hope everything goes as planned. It is very important to me that all space scientists share and build on information, because the more we know about the moon and space, the sooner we will be able to set up outposts and move forward. I am very hopeful that China will share the information it collects with the rest of the world's space science programs so we can all grow from this mission."

Alan Gould, emeritus director of the Lawrence Hall of Science Planetarium at the University of California, Berkeley, said the mission is expected to make significant contributions to long-term lunar research goals.

Gould said as Chang'e 5 will be collecting surface samples younger than those brought back last century by the Apollo missions, he expects to see advances in knowledge of the composition of lunar materials.

"Even more exciting is the longer-term goal to establish an international lunar research station," he said, adding he wished the Chang'e 5 team the best of luck.

He also expressed hope for more cooperation between the US and China in space exploration.

Steve Durst, founding director of the International Lunar Observatory Association, a nonprofit organization in Hawaii, described the Chang'e 5 mission as "historic, revolutionary and pioneering".

"The International Lunar Observatory Association has always considered Chang'e 5 as the decisive gateway mission to enable commitment and preparation for China's astronauts to travel to and land on the moon," Durst said.

He said the opportunities and advancements resulting from China's lunar exploration program have been enormous for science, technology, education and business. International collaboration on the basis of equality and mutual benefit will also be fostered, as well as peaceful and productive uses of the moon for the entire humanity.

"I hope the revolutionary Chang'e 5 mission will carry and advance a most important accomplishment of the US Apollo moon landings, as inscribed on the plaque Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin placed on the moon-'We came in peace for all mankind'."

Oded Ben-Horin, an associate professor at the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences in Bergen, Norway, said besides scientific and technological achievements, Chang'e 5 will also act as an inspiration for creative education. He hopes educators around the world will study the findings of the mission and share them with students.

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