China Begins Exploration Of The Far Side Of The Moon

Posted: Jan 5 2019, 2:23am CST | by , in Latest Science News


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China Begins Exploration of the Far Side of the Moon
This Jan. 3 image shows China's lunar rover on moon's surface. Credit: China National Space Administration/Xinhua News Agency

China's Chang'e-4 mission successfully landed on the far side of the moon on January 3.

Just a day after Chang'e 4 spacecraft’s landing, Chinese rover has started exploring terrain on the far side of the moon. An image released by China's space agency shows tracks left by the six-wheeled lunar rover Jade Rabbit 2 as it leaves the spacecraft.

“It's a small step for the rover, but one giant leap for the Chinese nation,” said Wu Weiren, the chief designer of the Lunar Exploration Project. “This giant leap is a decisive move for our exploration of space and the conquering of the universe.”

China's Chang'e-4 probe, named after the goddess of the moon in Chinese mythology, is humanity's first mission to land on the far side of the moon. The moon's far side, also known as the dark side, is largely unexplored and always faces away from the earth. Although United States, Soviet Union and China itself have sent spacecraft to the near side of the moon or the side directly visible from Earth, no lander or rover has ever touched the other side. With Chang'e 4 mission, China becomes the first country to ever successfully reach the far side of the moon. Overall, Chang’e 4 is the second Chinese probe to make a soft landing on the Moon, following the Yutu (Jade Rabbit) rover mission in 2013.

"The landing on the far side shows China's technology is powerful," said He Qisong, a space expert at the East China University of Science and Law in Shanghai. "China has already positioned itself at least as good as Russia and the European Union."

Chinese probe landed on the Aitken Basin, a vast impact region in the lunar south pole. The region is roughly 2,500 km wide and 13 kilometers deep, making it one the largest impact basins in the solar system. The probe will study geological conditions on the South Pole-Aitken from both above and under the surface. One of the initial images sent back by Chang'e 4 shows a small crater and barren surface on the far side of the moon.

"The surface is soft and it is similar to that when you are walking on the snow.” Rover designer Shen Zhenrong of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation told CCTV.

If all goes well, China plans to send its Chang'e 5 probe there next year and more robotic missions including a crewed space mission in the following years.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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