The Deputy Director of the Chinese Space Administration said that China will share data and samples obtained from the Moon by its Chang’e-5 probe in accordance with international conventions, although the United States’ “unfortunate” restrictions on cooperation may prevent its access.

The probe landed in northern Inner Mongolia in the early hours of Thursday, bringing back the first lunar rocks and soil collected by any country since the 1970s and making China the third country in history to obtain lunar samples.

The materials collected during the Chang’e-5 mission are named after the mythological Chinese lunar goddess, which will further promote scientists’ understanding of the origin of the moon.

The mission also tested China’s ability to remotely obtain samples from space before performing more complex missions in the solar system.

Wu Yanhua, deputy director of the China National Space Administration, said: “According to international cooperation conventions and multilateral and bilateral cooperation treaties, we will issue regulations on the management of lunar samples and data.”

He said: “We will share with relevant countries and overseas scientists, some of which may be given as national gifts in accordance with international practice.”

When asked if China is willing to share any samples with the United States, which restricts NASA’s space agency from directly cooperating with China, Wu Yi said that the existing restrictions in the United States are “unfortunate.”

Wu Bangguo said: “The Chinese government is willing to share lunar samples with like-minded institutions and scientists from various countries.”

Wu Bangguo said: “The ability to cooperate depends on US policy.”

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He said that China is willing to cooperate with American institutions and scientists on the basis of equality, mutual benefit and win-win results.

China has not disclosed the number of samples it has retrieved. The plan is to collect 2 kilograms (4.41 pounds) of rock and soil.

“We will announce this soon,” Hu Hao, chief designer of the third phase of China’s lunar exploration program, told Reuters on the margins of the briefing.

“We haven’t taken them out of the investigation.”

© Thomson Reuters 2020


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