China's lunar probe lifts off from far side of moon carrying rock, soil samples

China's state-run media report the country's unmanned lunar probe has lifted off from the far side of the moon after collecting rock and soil samples. If it succeeds, it would be the first mission in human history to bring samples back to Earth from the moon's far side.

China Central Television reported that the Chang'e-6 probe departed from the moon's surface and entered lunar orbit on Tuesday morning.

The Chang'e-6 was launched early last month, and touched down on the far side of the moon on Sunday morning.

CCTV said the probe collected soil and rock samples from on and below the surface for two days at several locations on the far side of the moon, while maintaining communication with Earth through a relay satellite.

Images from the moon showed the probe using a drill and other equipment to collect the samples.

Scientists say there may be ice that could be turned into drinking water and fuel in areas near the moon's south pole where the probe landed.

If the mission is successful, China will become the first country to bring back samples from the far side of the moon. China apparently hopes to boost its presence in lunar exploration and development through the current mission.