HK, Macao add thrust to nation’s space exploration

Lunar soil samples collected by the Chang”e 5 probe are displayed on the College of Hong Kong. [CALVIN NG/CHINA DAILY]

Each cities make important contributions to analysis

Many individuals gazing on the moon shining brightly within the evening sky surprise what secrets and techniques the Earth’s satellite tv for pc holds.

Nevertheless, few of them have the prospect to entry lunar soil and examine it to unlock such mysteries, not like Qian Yuqi.

At first of this 12 months, Qian, a postdoctoral fellow from the Division of Earth Sciences on the College of Hong Kong, or HKU, utilized to entry lunar soil samples from the China Nationwide Area Administration. His software was permitted in June.

It was the primary time Hong Kong had secured lunar soil samples for examine.

Though he’s solely 28, Qian, a geologist who wears darkish glasses and sports activities a flat haircut, has been finding out the moon for practically a decade.

His enthusiasm for all issues lunar runs deep. His pc desktop boasts a display saver displaying the moon. He carries a backpack displaying the Chinese language characters for “moon exploration”, and a mannequin of the moon sits on his workplace desk. Qian additionally repeatedly emphasizes simply how fascinating his lunar research are.

Qian’s curiosity in house dates to his childhood. Whereas immersing himself in science fiction movies and novels, he observed that these tales had been at all times set in house, with geologists taking part in important roles.

After passing the faculty entrance examination in 2013, Qian pursued a level in geology at China College of Geosciences (Wuhan) in Hubei province. He might solely select a serious centered on the Earth’s geology, as no undergraduate packages on the mainland at the moment had been particularly centered on planetary science or deep house exploration, he mentioned.

Qian labored exhausting, as he knew that finding out the Earth’s geology might lay a strong basis for exploring different planets. His alternative quickly arrived, with China’s lunar exploration program gaining important momentum.

In 2004, China formally launched the Chang’e undertaking to discover the moon in three phases to meet three goals: unmanned lunar exploration, a manned lunar touchdown, and establishing a lunar base.

The unmanned lunar exploration, or the Chinese language Lunar Exploration Program, additionally consists of three phases: orbiting, touchdown and returning.

The orbiting section, which started in 2004, concerned Chang’e 1 in 2007 and Chang’e 2 in 2010 exploring the lunar floor from orbit. The touchdown section concerned Chang’e 3 in 2013 and Chang’e 4 in 2018 touchdown on the moon’s floor for detailed exploration. The returning section included the Chang’e 5 mission in 2020, which collected lunar samples for a return to Earth.

When the Chang’e undertaking began, many mainland college researchers switched their analysis focus to the moon and have become concerned in these missions.

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