Chang’e-5 return capsule holding lunar specimens.
Credit: National Astronomical Observatories, CAS

China on Monday unveiled regulations on lunar sample management, encouraging international cooperation on studying the samples brought back by the country’s  Chang’e-5 lunar mission.

The China National Space Administration (CNSA) released the regulations that cover general principles for preserving, managing, using, borrowing and returning the lunar samples, as well as information release and research results management of the samples.

Sample handling lab.
Credit: National Astronomical Observatories, CAS

According to the regulations, the lunar samples will be generally used for:

— permanent storage

— backup permanent storage

— research and

— public welfare

Roughly 80 percent of the lunar samples will be used for scientific research, and 20 percent will be preserved for better and more advanced scientific research methods and conditions in the future.

Credit: China Central Television (CCTV)/China National Space Administration (CNSA)/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Pre-processing stage

Zhang Kejian, head of the CNSA, noting that the management and usage of the samples would comply with relevant international conventions.

According to China’s Xinhua news agency, diplomats and representatives from France, Russia, the European Union, Asia Pacific Space Cooperation Organization and other countries and international organizations were invited to visit the lunar sample storage and processing facilities in the National Astronomical Observatories of China under the Chinese Academy of Sciences on Monday.

“We are still in the pre-processing stage of the lunar samples, including sample unsealing, preparation and the establishment of archives,” said Pei Zhaoyu, deputy director of Lunar Exploration and Space Engineering Center of CNSA.

Credit: China Central Television (CCTV)/China National Space Administration (CNSA)/Inside Outer Space screengrab

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 lunar samples.

En route China Mars probe Tianwen-1 is seen in this post-launch selfie.
Credit: CNSA


Mars rover name

Meanwhile, ECNS — the English-language website of China News Service — reports that the Lunar Exploration and Space Engineering Center of the CNSA announced it has finished the initial evaluation of global name collection for its first Mars.

The 10 names: Hongyi, Kylin, Nezha, Chitu, Zhurong, Qiusuo, Hot Wheel, Zhuimeng, Tianxing and Xinghuo.

All 10 names are related to traditional Chinese culture and have come out after a global naming campaign that kicked off in late July 2020.

Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Hongyi, stemming from The Analects of Confucius, means breadth of mind and vigorous endurance. Kylin, Nezha, Chitu, Zhurong and Hot Wheel originate from ancient Chinese mythological stories. Qiusuo, selected from Lisao, a work by patriotic poet Qu Yuan from the Warring States period, means a person should keep searching the road ahead. Zhuimeng means to pursue a dream, Tianxing relates the motion of celestial bodies while Xinghuo means a single spark can start a prairie fire.

A total of 39,808 effective names were collected from July 24, 2020 to August 16, 2020, among which 38,340 were submitted via designated apps and 1,468 by letter.

The official name for the Mars rover will be released before the Tianwen-1 probe lands on Mars. As a combined orbiter, lander, and rover, the spacecraft is set to brake into Mars orbit around February 10th.

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