Chang’e-6 lunar probe back to Earth: an image – 22 June 2024

While the Chinese Chang’e-6 probe is bringing back the first lunar samples from the far side of the Moon, we managed to image the returning module a few days before its reentry.

Chang’e-6 lunar probe: 22 June 2024.

Chang’e-6 lunar probe: 22 June 2024.

The image above comes from the average of 28, 10-second unfiltered exposures, taken with the ARTEC250+Paramount ME+C3Pro61000EC robotic unit available as part of the Virtual Telescope Project facility in Manciano, Italy. At the imaging time, the probe was only 14 deg. above the S-E horizon, with a very bright full Moon rising. Despite these difficulties, we could spot the probe, using orbital elements computed by Bill J. Gray. Its distance from us was 315000 km.

The returning module of the Chang’e-6 is expected to land on 25 June, with its precious lunar samples – the first ever to be collected on the far side of the Moon.

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