What China hides: a mysterious “passenger” was noticed on board Chang’e-6

China intends to become the first country to return samples to Earth from the far side of the moon. In addition to collecting rocks and dust, the mission, called Chang’e-6, will deliver even more interesting equipment: a secret lunar rover, which was not announced by the Chinese Space Agency at all. An interesting observation is reported by SpaceNews

Chang’e-6, which shows a lunar rover attached to the lander. Authorship: CAST

The watchful eye of reporter Andrew Jones noticed, in the images of Chang’e-6 provided by the Chinese Academy of Space Technology, something similar to a mini lunar rover attached to the side of the lander. It is not yet known what China’s plans are for a four-wheeled robot. But given that it is unlikely to survive the lunar night, the duration of its mission will most likely be quite short.

This news comes amid the fact that several other countries made a soft landing on the moon in the last year alone, including Japan and India. However, it turned out to be extremely difficult to land, since the Japanese lander landed unsuccessfully on the Moon. China, for its part, has already successfully delivered three robotic landers to the surface of the Moon during a period of just over a decade.

In early 2019, the Chinese lunar probe Chang’e-4 became the first man-made spacecraft to land on the far side of the Moon. The future Chang’e-6 mission, which will be a continuation of the 2020 mission to return samples from the near side, will explore the southern end of the Apollo Basin, a huge impact crater on the far side of the Moon, in the coming months.

Meanwhile, the Chang’e-6 mission is already in full swing: the spacecraft entered lunar orbit early in the morning on May 8. It is planned that at the end of the mission, the spacecraft will deliver more than four kilograms of samples to Earth, which will potentially allow scientists to get an unprecedented look at the far side of our nearest neighbor.

And the mysterious lunar rover aboard Chang’e-6 is an intriguing new development that could lay the basis for future missions ahead, given the richness of knowledge to be gained from the much less studied and much more mysterious and harsh side of the moon.

Earlier, we reported on how China confirmed its intention to land people on the Moon.

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