China has not yet given any lunar samples by NASA

Jim Green, NASA’s chief scientist said that the agency has no plans to trade its Apollo-era lunar samples with China. The restrictions in U.S law limits any exchange of lunar samples between these two nations for now.

“Currently, there’s no plans to exchange samples with China in a bilateral arrangement. This is because of the Wolf Amendment, which restricts such cooperation through annual appropriations bills passed by Congress,” he said.

Chinese officials said they would be willing to share some of the samples from Chang’e-5 with scientists in other countries. This is interesting because it brings back relatively young material that was previously returned by Apollo and Luna missions, which allows for more detailed analysis on lunar geology than previous data has provided.

There were several questions asked about this new information at a recent meeting attended by Chinese officials as well as attendees such as those interested in such details like Green who responded during questioning time with additional insight into how these different types of samples can bring further understanding to our knowledge about planetary science.

NASA has struck an agreement with Japan to exchange materials from asteroid Ryugu for Bennu. NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is bringing back material from the asteroid Bennu, and JAXA provided samples of its own returned by Hayabusa2 mission in return. The Wolf Amendment restricts but doesn’t outright prohibit cooperation between China and US organizations such as NASA.

NASA’s next lunar sample collection mission may not occur for another decade. James Head, a veteran Lunar Scientist asked NASA if they were planning on doing any future robotic or unmanned missions to the moon as part of their Commercial Lunar Payload Services program which would deliver payloads commercially instead of through government funded vehicles like Apollo and Artemis 3.

NASA has been encouraging CLPS providers to go beyond the mission of simply landing on the moon and then taking off again. Joel Kearns, deputy associate administrator for exploration in NASA’s Science Mission Directorate said it is more difficult than getting landers to survive a two-week lunar night but that he had not yet been able to estimate when such missions would be feasible.


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