China has become the second country in history to put its flag on the moon, more than 50 years after the US first planted the Stars and Stripes.

In 1969, the US planted the first flag on the Moon during the Apollo mission. In the Apollo programme, which first put men on the moon, the US landed 12 astronauts over six flights from 1969 to 1972, bringing back 382 kg (842 pounds) of rocks and soil.

After the United States and Russia, China would be the third nation to bring rocks back from the Moon. However, the rocks brought back by the US and Russia are much older, around 3.2 billion years. Bagging rocks from the location where China has landed its spacecraft will help scientists to more accurately date the Moon.

The images were taken by a camera on the Chang’e-5 space probe, named after the mythical Chinese moon goddess, before it left the moon on Thursday to return to Earth. The space probe also brought the first samples of lunar rock to be collected in four decades.

The Pictures from the country’s National Space Administration show the five-starred Red Flag holding still on the windless lunar surface.