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China unfurls its first fabric flag on moon

China's national flag was unfurled from the Chang'e-5 probe on the moon on Thursday. Photo courtesy of the China National Space Administration/EPA-EFE
China's national flag was unfurled from the Chang'e-5 probe on the moon on Thursday. Photo courtesy of the China National Space Administration/EPA-EFE

Dec. 4 (UPI) -- China's Chang'e-5 lander departed the moon after spending two days on the surface, leaving behind its first official flag.

China brought two flags on previous missions, but the one left Thursday was the first one made of fabric, the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp. said. The fabric and rod structure of the flag were treated to be protected during extreme temperatures on the lunar surfaces.

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"An ordinary national flag on Earth would not survive the severe lunar environment," CASIC team member Chang Cheng told the Global Times.

China's National Space Administration released an image of the red, five-star flag on the lunar surface.

The Chang'e-5 lander touched down on the moon Tuesday on a mission to collect rock samples and test the deep below the surface for minerals and water.

The 1.2-billion-year-old volcanic plain where the Chang'e-5 lander scavenged for rock samples is considerably younger than the region of the moon visited by American and Soviet spacecraft.

The rocks from Mons Rumker could help scientists gain new insights into the timing of the moon's formation, as well as the development of its geologic features.

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Both NASA and the Soviet Union's space agency last collected and returned lunar rocks in the 1970s.

Last year, the China became the first nation to land a spacecraft on the far side of the moon when Chang'e-4 touched down near the moon's south pole.

Brooks Hays contributed to this report.

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