China's Chang'e-4 probe soft-lands on moon's far side

03 January, 2019, 08:27 | Author: Tara Reeves
  • The launch of Chang'e 4 lunar probe

"Chang'e-4 is humanity's first probe to land on and explore the far side of the moon", said the mission's chief commander He Rongwei of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, the main state-owned space contractor.

The Moon's dark side remains largely unexplored because its position shields it from radio frequencies, preventing direct contact with the Earth.

It was not until 1959 that the Soviet Union captured the first images of the moon's mysterious and heavily cratered "dark side".

Karl Bergquist, the European Space Agency's global relations administrator, is quoted by China Daily as saying that the Chang'e-4 mission is scientifically and technologically "very impressive" because "no one has ever done it, this mission will therefore advance our knowledge of the moon".

The mission left Xichang Satellite Launch Center on December 8 and was reported to have reached lunar orbit four days later.

China announced that it successfully landed a probe on the far side of the moon Thursday.

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The moon is tidally locked to Earth, rotating at the same rate that it orbits our planet, so the far side is never visible from Earth.

The lander with Jade Rabbit touched down in 2013, making it the first soft landing on the Moon since 1976.

The rover will also conduct mineral and radiation tests, the China National Space Administration has said, according to state news agency Xinhua. That is why the special relay satellite, named Queqiao, will be responsible for transmitting signals between the Earth station, and the Chang'e-4 lander and rover.

Adding to the difficulties, Chang'e-4 was sent to the Aitken Basin in the lunar south pole region - known for its craggy and complex terrain - state media has said. Its success provided a major boost to China's space programme.

The pioneering landing demonstrates China's growing ambitions as a space power.

China's latest moon shot will pave the way for the country to deliver samples of lunar rock and dust to Earth.

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