Chang’e 5, China’s newest lunar probe, is scheduled to bring 2 kilograms of lunar soil and rock samples back to Earth before the end of 2017. The 8.2-metric ton probe has four components, an orbiter, lander, ascender and re-entry module. After the probe reaches lunar orbit, the components will separate into two parts, with the orbiter and re-entry module remaining in the orbit while the lander and ascender descend toward the moon’s surface. The lander and ascender will make a soft landing and carry out tasks such as using a drill to collect underground rocks and a mechanical arm to gather lunar soil. After two days, the ascender’s rocket will elevate it to lunar orbit to dock with the re-entry module. It will transfer lunar samples to the module, which will carry them to Earth. The samples are to be distributed to scientists around the country for research.

China Bio news release, March 6, 2017