A Chinese robot is bringing home moon rocks, and US bots will soon follow

A Chinese robot is bringing home moon rocks, and US bots will soon follow
Tim Fernholz

For the second year in a row, China has landed an ambitious robotic explorer on the moon. This mission, called Chang’e 5, will make the first attempt to return samples of lunar soil to earth since Russian robots and NASA’s crewed Apollo missions did so more than four decades ago. Technologically, a successful sample return will demonstrate China’s capacity for sophisticated systems engineering.