China and Pakistan are set to enhance their cooperation in the space sector as Pakistan's payload will be included in China's next mission to the Moon, scheduled for 2024.
The Chang'e-6 lunar mission, as per the China National Space Administration (CNSA), is currently in the research and development phase.
This mission aims to collect samples from the far side of the moon, a significant endeavour that has never been done before.
All previous human-led sampling missions have taken place on the near side of the moon. The far side is generally older and contains the Aitken Basin, one of the Moon's major landforms.
The Chang'e-6 mission has a specific goal of landing in the South Pole-Aitken Basin on the far side of the Moon. Its objective is to explore and collect lunar samples from various regions and ages.
To foster international cooperation, the Chang'e-6 mission will carry payloads and satellite projects from different countries and regions. These include France's DORN radon detection instrument, the European Space Agency's negative ion detector, Italy's laser retroreflector, and Pakistan's CubeSat, a miniaturised satellite, as announced by the CNSA.
Earlier this year, Pakistan sent seeds to the Chinese space station, Tiangong, for research on environmentally tolerant seeds.
Moreover, there are discussions between Pakistan and China about the possibility of a formal agreement to join both the Tiangong space station and the ambitious China-led lunar base on the South Pole, according to the Dawn newspaper.
The lunar far side, also known incorrectly as "the dark side of the Moon," refers to the side that is not visible from Earth. This region remains largely unexplored, and its mysteries are yet to be uncovered.
China is planning to launch its relay satellite Queqiao-2, also known as Magpie Bridge-2, in the first half of 2024.
This satellite will support communication between the far side of the Moon and Earth, according to a report by Xinhua.
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