China is the first country to land a spacecraft on far side Moon

China is the first country to land a spacecraft on far side Moon

CGTN America

On Wednesday, China’s Chang’e 4, which launched from Xichang Satellite Launch Center in early December, became the first ever probe to soft-land on the far side of the moon.

China Central Television reports the lunar explorer Chang’e 4 had touched down at 10:26 a.m., BJT.

Among China’s scientific goals for Chang’e 4 are expanded astronomical observation using low frequency radio; mineral collection and analysis; neutron atom and radiation analysis; and even delivering a mini-ecosystem of potatoes, mustard seeds, and silkworms to the surface of the Moon.

Contrary to common belief, the far side of the Moon is not the same as the dark side. The Moon is tidally locked, which means one side is always facing Earth… While the other side always faces away. This is the far side, which we cannot see directly from Earth.

To begin exploring this uncharted area, the first key challenge was to guarantee communication with controllers on Earth.

Since the moon itself blocks direct radio transmission, China launched Chang’e-4’s relay satellite, Queqiao or Magpie Bridge earlier this year. It’s role is to “bounce” the probe’s signal back to Earth. It has since entered Halo orbit around the moon, about 400,000km (250,000 miles) from Earth, where it will serve as a perfect communication link.

The China National Space Administration (CNSA) in Beijing had to alter the probe’s orbit twice since Sunday, while they also tested communications between the probe and the Queqiao satellite. According to CNSA, the lunar rover’s imaging and GPS tools are prepared for operation.

With Chang’e 3 in 2013, China became the first nation to land a probe on the moon since 1976. Unfortunately, the Yutu, or Jade Rabbit rover lost mobility within two months after landing. The CNSA stated that lessons learned from that first probe drastically improved technology designed for Chang’e 4.

Chang’e 4 marks the completion of stage two in the Chinese Lunar Exploration Plan (CLEP).

In 2020, China plans to complete a third and final phase with Chang’e 5. In that mission, the lunar lander and rover will return to Earth after collecting samples and completing its scientific mission on the moon.

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Video: China becomes first country to land on far side of the moon

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Video: Chinese probe Chang’e 4 lands on far side of moon

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Video: World first: Chinese spacecraft lands on ‘dark’ side of moon

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