China launches pioneering mission to far side of moon
China launches pioneering mission to far side of moon
Reuters Dinuka Liyanawatte
08 December, 2018, 10:39
The probe is expected to make the first-ever soft landing on the far side of the moon.
China has launched a lunar probe that is heading toward the far side of the moon.
"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 rover is expected to land around the New Year to carry out experiments and explore the untrodden terrain.
In 2013 China became just the third country, after the USA and the then-Soviet Union, to successfully "soft land" on the Moon when its Chang'e 3 lander reached the lunar surface.
A Long March 3B rocket carrying a lunar probe blasted off at 2:23 a.m. from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan Province in southwestern China, the official Xinhua News Agency said.
Once on the moon´s surface, the rover faces an array of extreme challenges. The other face, most of which can not be seen from earth, is called the far side or dark side, not because it's dark, but because most of it remains unknown.
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If successful, the Chang-e 4 will unlock valuable clues to the mysteries about the moon and the universe.
The Chang'e-4 mission will be a key step in revealing the mysterious far side of the moon.
China's space program has benefited from cooperation with Russian Federation and European nations, although it was excluded from the 420-ton International Space Station, mainly due to USA legislation barring such cooperation amid concerns over its strong military connections.
The scientific tasks of the Chang'e-4 mission include low-frequency radio astronomical observation, surveying the terrain and landforms, detecting the mineral composition and shallow lunar surface structure, and measuring the neutron radiation and neutral atoms to study the environment on the far side of the moon, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) announced.
A major challenge for such a mission is communicating with the robotic lander: as the far side of the moon always points away from earth, there is no direct "line of sight" for signals.
The experiments also involve planting potato and other seeds, according to Chinese media reports.
Scientists will study the data it collects in order to see how it compares to samples from the near side of the Moon. The earth's and moon's gravity balances the orbital motion of the satellite and makes it very fuel-efficient.
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