China has planted its flag on the Moon more than 50 years after the US first planted its Star-Spangled Banner.
The China National Space Administration on Friday released an image showing China’s national flag unfolded from the Chang’e-5 probe on the moon before the takeoff.
Because of the strong electromagnetic radiation and the huge temperature difference between day and night on the surface of the moon, a flag made of conventional material, once exposed on the lunar surface, will experience color fading and even decomposition immediately. Therefore, scientists spent a year to find the proper material of the flag, that can withstand the harsh environment on the lunar surface and retain its color and shape.
The Chinese flag is 2m wide and 90cm tall and weighs about a kilogram. All parts of the flag have been given features such as protection against cold temperatures.
“An ordinary national flag on Earth would not survive the severe lunar environment,” project developer Cheng Chang said.
The images were taken by a panoramic camera installed on the lander-ascender combination of the probe before the ascender blasted off from the moon.
The fabric flag was unfolded by the Chang’e-5 lander vehicle just before its ascender vehicle took off using the lander as a launchpad.
In December 2013, the Chinese national flag, which was presented in the form of spacecraft’s coatings, was recorded in pictures that the spacecraft’s lander and its rover Yutu-1 took for each other.
In January 2019, Chang’e-4 lander and rover Yutu-2 took China’s national flag to the dark side of the moon, also in the form of spacecraft’s coatings.
The Chang’e-5 mission is China’s third successful landing on the Moon in seven years.
Whereas, the US planted the first flag on the Moon during the manned Apollo 11 mission in 1969. Five further US flags were planted on the lunar surface during subsequent missions up until 1972.In 2012 Nasa cited satellite images as showing that five of the flags were still standing, but experts quoted in media reports say they are likely to have been bleached white by the sun’s glare.