China lunar probe sheds light on the 'dark' side of the moon

06 January, 2019, 15:42 | Author: Darnell Taylor
  • An artist's impression of the moon lander for China's Chang'e-4 lunar probe

The far side of the moon is still a relative mystery and communication is hard because it always points away from Earth and this means signals can be blocked.

Just as promised since the end of a year ago, the Chinese Chang'e-4 lander and rover descended to the surface of the Moon, on the side it never shows to us, marking the first time a human-made machine arrived there.

Over about 12 dramatic minutes, China's Chang'e-4 probe descended and softly touched down on a crater on the far side of the moon on Thursday.

The Chang'e 4 lander is the fourth of six planned lunar missions.

The far side of the moon faces away from Earth and is relatively unexplored.

China also shared some images of what the far side of the moon looks like taken by the Chang'e-4 probe.

TRT World spoke to Associate Professor of Astrophysics at Keele University Jacco van Loon.

The landing is the latest step for China in its race to catch up with Russian Federation and the United States and become a major space power by 2030.

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Let's start with the farside, where China's Chang'e 4 lander touched down yesterday (Jan. 2), making China the first country to land a spacecraft there.

The mission of Chang-e 4, which is carrying a rover, includes carrying out low-frequency radio astronomical observations and probing the structure and mineral composition of the terrain.

Following the December 7, 2018 launch of the Chang'e 4 mission using a Long March-3B/G3Z booster/launch vehicle the Chinese spacecraft reached lunar orbit last weekend. China launched a radio-relay satellite to orbit the moon prior to Chang'e 4's mission to enable the spacecraft to communicate with the earth. The country aims to land a crewed flight on the moon in the coming decade. The other side, most of which can not be seen from the Earth, is called the far side or dark side because most of it is uncharted.

The next phase of China's lunar exploration will kick off in late 2019 with the launch of Chang'e 5.

"It's an important milestone for China's space exploration", Wu Weiren, chief designer of the lunar exploration program, said, according to Xinhua.

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