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Innovation in Lunar Exploration: PolyU’s Tech Milestone

Image Credits: PolyU, Press Release
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The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) research team has contributed to lunar exploration by developing and manufacturing the “Surface Sampling and Packing System” (SSPS). This system facilitated the Nation’s successful completion of the world’s first lunar far-side sampling mission under the Chang’e-6 lunar exploration project. PolyU also recently secured approval to borrow lunar soil samples collected by the Chang’e-5 mission from the Lunar Sample Management Office of the China National Space Administration’s Lunar Exploration and Space Engineering Centre.

Image Credits: PolyU, Press Release

PolyU now possesses two distinct lunar soil samples: a 400-milligram surface soil sample collected using the SSPS, and a 42.6-milligram subsurface soil sample. These samples are housed within the state-of-the-art lunar regolith storage and analysis system on the PolyU campus. This multifunctional system enables in-situ analysis, allowing researchers to thoroughly study the lunar regolith without removing it from its storage environment.

Dr LAM Tai-fai, Council Chairman of PolyU, congratulated the research team for their contribution to the Nation’s aerospace history, noting that PolyU’s accomplishments coincide with its 30th anniversary as a university. He highlighted PolyU’s new ranking of 57th globally in the 2025 Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings and emphasised the significance of acquiring lunar soil samples from the Chang’e-5 mission. Dr LAM expressed that the team will highly value this precious acquisition.

Professor Jin-Guang TENG, President of PolyU, reinforced the university’s commitment to becoming an innovative, world-class institution. He stressed the crucial role of scientific research in driving innovation and societal impact. Prof. TENG emphasised PolyU’s focus on nurturing young scientific talents and passing on research expertise across generations. He also highlighted the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration in advancing the Nation’s deep space exploration and scientific innovation efforts.

The in-depth analysis and research program for the Chang’e-5 lunar samples is led by a seasoned PolyU team with extensive experience in deep space explorations. This team is spearheaded by Professor YUNG Kai-Leung, the Sir Sze-yuen Chung Professor in Precision Engineering and Director of the Research Centre for Deep Space Explorations (RCDSE), along with Professor WU Bo, Fiona Cheung Professor in Spatial Science and Associate Director of RCDSE. The research team, which includes Dr Wang Xing and Dr Sergey Krasilnikov, will conduct a microstructural analysis of the lunar regolith, focusing on its water content and formation process. This research aims to uncover insights into the formation of soil on the Moon and other celestial bodies, as well as exploring lunar water resources induced by solar wind implantation.

Professor WU Bo expressed gratitude for the successful application and receipt of lunar soil samples from the National Astronomical Observatories in Beijing, which are now being analysed at PolyU. He emphasised that these samples offer valuable scientific insights. Professor WU also noted the interdisciplinary team’s extensive experience in various space missions and research areas, including lunar geological research, topographic and geomorphological analysis of landing sites, space payload development, and space resource utilisation. He looks forward to leveraging these strengths to contribute further to technological innovation in Hong Kong and the Nation.

Prof. Yung Kai-leung remarked on the significance of the team’s role in designing the SSPS for the Chang’e-5 mission, which brought back the youngest lunar samples yet discovered. He mentioned plans to apply for samples from the Moon’s far side collected by the Chang’e-6 mission to enhance humanity’s understanding of the Moon and outer space. He expressed optimism about continuing contributions to the Nation’s aerospace endeavours with future priorities including Mars sample returns and China’s manned lunar landing.

The lunar soil samples hold immense scientific value, potentially unlocking mysteries about the Moon’s formation and evolution. The Space Resources Laboratory at PolyU’s RCDSE has developed capabilities to store and analyse extraterrestrial samples in high-purity nitrogen protection devices, positioning the Laboratory to handle future samples from Mars and asteroids. This prepares PolyU to support the Nation’s future aerospace development.


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