On Thursday, Beijing announced that Chinese spacecraft Change’e-5 has successfully gather material from a previously unexplored part of the moon and is preparing to send back the world’s first lunar samples in four decades.
The spacecraft had been due to collect two kilograms (4.5 pounds) of material from an area known as Oceanus Procellarum — or Ocean of Storms — a vast lava plain, according to the science journal Nature.
Scientists hope the samples will help them learn about the Moon’s origins, formation and volcanic activity on its surface.
The Chang’e-5 spacecraft, named after the mythical Chinese moon goddess, landed on the moon Tuesday and has now completed its gathering of lunar rocks and soil, the China National Space Administration said.
If successful, China will be only the third country to have retrieved samples from the Moon, following the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1960s and 1970s.