China’s Chang’e-5 lunar probe, which is carrying about 2 kg of precious lunar samples, is about to reenter the Earth’s atmosphere and touch down at the preset landing site at Siwangzi Banner of North China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. All systems at the landing site are ready to deliver quality services to ensure the success of the last stage of the mission, according to landing site authorities on Tuesday.
The search team, a special squad deployed by the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, has conducted numerous night time drills, despite the challenges brought by the heavy snow and bitter cold in the region, Global Times learned from space authorities on Tuesday.
According to the authorities, the reentry capsule of the Chang’e-5 is only one seventh the size of the spaceship, while its landing area is 16 times bigger, adding to the difficulties of the search operation.
Bian Hancheng, deputy chief designer of the landing site and the mission commander, told the Global Times that the reentry method of the Chang’e-5 capsule, which is safer and provides a technical foundation for future manned missions, mimics a skipping stone, and has also increased the level of difficulty in controlling it, resulting in a larger retrieval field.
To overcome such challenges, processed radar data will be sent to the helicopters and vehicles designated to carry out the search operation and guide them to approach the spacecraft. They are also equipped with high-power searchlights to facilitate the search process.
Search and rescue units from air and ground took part in the most recent drill, acting upon six landing forecasts issued by the Beijing Aerospace Control Center. The whole process verified the team’s night capability and the performance of their equipment.
The last time the landing site performed a search mission of this nature was in 2016 for the Shijian-10 satellite. New facilities, including a mobile communication station and high-voltage transmission lines have since been added to the site’s infrastructure.
The search and retrieval team have conducted some 30 terrain surveys in frosty night time conditions at the landing region, pinpointing 100 communication towers and more than 2,800 herders’ points, providing valuable information for commanders to make decisions.