China completes lunar sample collection ahead of schedule

The Chang’e-5 lunar probe gathers samples on the moon in this picture released on Dec. 3, 2020 by the China National Space Administration. (China National Space Administration via CNS/AFP)
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Updated 03 December 2020

China completes lunar sample collection ahead of schedule

  • China launched a robotic spacecraft on Nov. 24 to bring back rocks from the moon

BEIJING: China’s Chang’e-5 lunar vehicle has finished collecting samples of lunar rocks and soil more than a day ahead of schedule in the first lunar sample retrieval mission since the 1970s, the country’s space agency said on Thursday.
The robotic vehicle has stored the samples and will now dock with the orbiting Chang’e-5 for the return journey to Earth.
China launched a robotic spacecraft on Nov. 24 to bring back rocks from the moon in the first bid by any country to retrieve samples since 1976.
Late on Tuesday, the Chang’e-5 spacecraft successfully deployed a pair of landing and ascending vehicles onto the moon’s surface. The plan was to collect 2 kg (4.4 pounds) of samples.
The sample collection was completed after 19 hours, the space agency said in its statement, without disclosing the total weight of the samples collected.
China had planned to collect the samples over a period of about two days, with the entire mission taking around 23 days.
The ascending vehicle would lift off from the lunar surface with the samples, and dock with a module currently orbiting around the moon.
The samples would then be transferred to a return capsule onboard the orbiting module for delivery back to Earth.
If successful, the mission will make China only the third country to have retrieved lunar samples after the United States and the Soviet Union.
China made its first lunar landing in 2013.
In January 2019, the Chang’e-4 probe landed on the far side of the moon, the first space probe from any nation to do so.


Elon Musk to offer $100 million prize for ‘best’ carbon capture technology

Updated 22 January 2021

Elon Musk to offer $100 million prize for ‘best’ carbon capture technology

  • Capturing planet-warming emissions is becoming a critical part of many plans to keep climate change in check

Tesla chief and billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk on Thursday took to Twitter to promise a $100 million prize for development of the “best” technology to capture carbon dioxide emissions.
Capturing planet-warming emissions is becoming a critical part of many plans to keep climate change in check, but very little progress has been made on the technology to date, with efforts focused on cutting emissions rather than taking carbon out of the air.
The International Energy Agency said late last year that a sharp rise in the deployment of carbon capture technology was needed if countries are to meet net-zero emissions targets.
“Am donating $100M toward a prize for best carbon capture technology,” Musk wrote in a tweet, followed by a second tweet that promised “Details next week.”
Tesla officials did not immediately respond to a request for additional information.
Musk, who co-founded and sold Internet payments company PayPal Holdings Inc, now leads some of the most futuristic companies in the world.
Besides Tesla, he heads rocket company SpaceX and Neuralink, a startup that is developing ultra-high bandwidth brain-machine interfaces to connect the human brain to computers.
Newly-sworn-in US President Joe Biden has pledged to accelerate the development of carbon capture technology as part of his sweeping plan to tackle climate change. On Thursday, he named Jennifer Wilcox, an expert in carbon removal technologies, as the principal deputy assistant secretary for fossil energy at the US Department of Energy.