On Monday, China delivered 17 grams of lunar samples brought back by the Chang'e-5 probe to 13 institutions, which applied for research programs to the Lunar Exploration and Space Program Center of the China National Space Administration (CNSA).
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“This is the first batch of lunar samples delivered to research institutions. More samples will be released and delivered in the future as planned,” said the CNSA Director Liu Jizhong, who added that China is willing to promote international cooperation and invite foreign scientists for joint research on lunar samples.
The Chinese center received 85 applications from 37 applicants working with 23 research institutions. After evaluation, 31 applications from 13 research institutions have been granted approval to study the first batch of lunar samples. The next round of application evaluation has been scheduled for September.
The Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) member Zhu Rixiang said that the approved study applications cover fields such as lunar surface process, volcanic activity age, lunar evolution process, and mineral and volatile composition.
The Chang'e-5 samples are different from those obtained by the U.S. and the Soviet Union in the past. The study of Chang'e-5 samples will offer new insights into the evolution of the moon and planets, and the habitability of planets.
The lunar samples were delivered to institutions including those from the CAS, China University of Geosciences (Beijing), China University of Geosciences (Wuhan), and Sun Yat-sen University.
The Chang'e-5 probe, comprising an orbiter, a lander, an ascender, and a returner, was launched on Nov. 24, 2020. The return capsule landed in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region on Dec. 17, retrieving about 1,731 grams of moon samples.