Thursday, 24 January, 2019

China's Chang'e 4 Lander Touches Down on Far Side of Moon

Chang'e 4 spacecraft lands on far side of the Moon in world first for China China claims to have landed spacecraft in unexplored side of Moon
Cary Marshall | 06 January, 2019, 15:41

Because the far side faces away from Earth, it is also shielded from radio transmissions - making it the ideal place from which to study the universe. Its mission will be to obtain geological samples on the near side of the moon and send these back to Earth.

We've never before landed a probe on the far side of the moon (sometimes incorrectly called the "dark side") because it comes with its own unique challenges.

The Chinese authorities are hoping for a more useful visit to our natural satellite, using the experience gained from the 2014 Chang'e 3 lander and its Jade Rabbit rover.

China's space agency posted a photo online, showing tracks the rover left as it departed from the spacecraft.

The rover has six powered wheels, which will let it keep working even if one of the wheels fails, according to the Associated Press.

These wheels aren't pneumatic like tires on your auto; instead, they are made using a metal frame and mesh rolling surface.

The photo of the rover was sent via the Queqiao (Magpie Bridge) satellite, which was blasted into the moon's orbit in May to relay data and commands between the lander and Earth.

Pink Floyd isn't the only one singing about the dark side of the moon now-China is too.

More news: Time for Christmas decorations to be taken down

Dr Wu Bo is seen at Xichang Launch Center where the Chang'e-4 was launched in December 2018.

Unlike the parabolic curve of Chang'e-3's descent trajectory, Chang'e-4 made an nearly vertical landing, said Wu.

Adding to the complexity of the mission, radio waves transmitted from the "dark" or far side of the moon do not reach earth. The landing was announced by state broadcaster China Central Television at the top of its noon news broadcast.

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

The US is the only other country to have made successful moon landings in the past - including the most famous of all in 1969 when Neil Armstrong took his famous steps onto the moon's surface.

It is not the first time the system has been deployed to take sharp photos of the moon's surface: It was first used in 2013 on the Chang'e-3, which landed on the moon's Mare Imbrium crater.

Instruments on the lander and rover will study the mineral composition and shallow lunar surface structure of the area as well as perform low-frequency radio astronomical observation. Its plans include establishing a permanent manned space station, a manned lunar landing, and eventually probes to Mars.

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