China’s Chang’e 5-T1
mission to the moon has not only taken some beautiful pictures of the Earth
from the craft’s perspective (hat tip to reader Taco Cowboy) but as of Friday evening (continental U.S. time) returned a capsule to Earth
. (The capsule landed in Inner Mongolia.) From the linked article: Prior to re-entering the Earths atmosphere, the unnamed probe was travelling at 11.2 kilometres per second (25,000 miles per hour), a speed that can generate temperatures of more than 1,500 degrees Celsius (2,700 degrees Fahrenheit), the news agency reported. To slow it down, scientists let the craft “bounce” off Earths atmosphere before re-entering again and landing. … The module would have been 413,000 kilometres from Earth at its furthest point on the mission, SASTIND said at the time. The mission was launched to test technology to be used in the Change-5, Chinas fourth lunar probe, which aims to gather samples from the moons surface and will be launched around 2017, SASTIND previously said.
Source: China Completes Its First Lunar Return Mission