More than 50 years ago, the space race to the moon had a winner. As part of its triumph, the United States left its flag there. They also left other flags behind in later missions. It’s the only country that had. But it turns out that times are changing. Now another country is imitating them: the second flag on the moon comes from China.
They leave the flag, they bring stones
Images from the Chinese space agency show the red flag on the surface of the moon. They were captured by a camera on the Chang’e-5 spaceship. A few hours ago the moon was loaded with rock samples that were to reach the earth in a few days. Two previous Chinese missions to the moon wore the national flag on the outside of the ships. However, none have been planted on the surface of our satellite.
The US planted its flag on the lunar surface in 1969 during the Apollo 11 mission. By 1972, five more US flags were planted on subsequent missions. In 2012, NASA claimed satellite imagery showed that one of the flags was still up. According to experts, it must of course have lost its color due to solar radiation.
The Chinese newspaper Global Times assured that the Chinese flag has a special coating so that it does not deteriorate. He said it was a reminder of “the excitement and inspiration” felt during the Apollo missions.
The Chang’e-5 spaceship landed on Mons Rümker this week. It is a volcanic plain in a region on the near side of the moon known as Oceanus Procellarum (Ocean of Storms). It is believed that the rocks at this point are much younger than those in previous samples. These were collected by astronauts on American and Soviet missions.
The rocks on Mons Rümker could be 1.3 billion years old. Those collected elsewhere through previous missions are instead between 3 and 4 billion years old.
The new samples will reach Earth in a few days. And they will allow scientists to optimize the methods of determining when various events in the history of the solar system have occurred.
The second flag on the moon comes from China. Which country will it be the third from?