Published: Sat, January 05, 2019
Sci-tech | By Jackie Newman

China Spacecraft Attempting First Lunar Landing on Dark Side of the Moon

China Spacecraft Attempting First Lunar Landing on Dark Side of the Moon

China landed the "Jade Rabbit" rover on the moon five years prior and plans to send its Chang'e 5 probe there next year and have it back to Earth with samples - the first event when that will have been done since 1976.

The probe, the Chang'e-4, is expected to make the first-ever soft landing on the far side of the Moon, according to Xinhua.

The rover of Chang'e 4 will land on the moon in about two weeks' time. The goal of this mission is to land a spacecraft on the far side of the moon.

The far side never shows itself because Moon is tidally locked with Earth.

Called Chang'e 4, after the name of the Chinese moon goddess, the mission will launch from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in China's south-west province of Sichuan. Because the moon rotates on its axis at the same rate it orbits the Earth, only one side of the moon is visible from Earth at all times. The far side remains forever out of view, and that explains why this obscured surface has yet to welcome a robotic visitor. To resolve the issue, China launched a communications satellite, Queqiao, in May.

China was preparing to launch a ground-breaking mission early Saturday to soft-land a spacecraft on the largely unexplored far side of the moon, demonstrating its growing ambitions as a space power to rival Russian Federation, the European Union and U.S. "The landing area, the South Pole-Aitken basin, is the oldest basin on the moon, meaning that we could get first-hand information about the distant past of the moon".

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Chang'e 4 is also a lander-rover combination and will explore both above and below the lunar surface after arriving at the South Pole-Aitken basin's Von Karman crater following a 27-day journey.

It will also perform radio-astronomical studies that, because the far side always faces away from Earth, will be "free from interference from our planet's ionosphere, human-made radio frequencies and auroral radiation noise", space industry expert Leonard David wrote on the website Space.com. This tin will contain water, a nutrient solution, air, a small camera, a data transmission system, and potato and arabidopsis seeds (arabidopsis is a small flowering plant related to mustard and cabbage).

Earlier this week, the Inquisitr reported that China could be launching a pioneering lunar mission over the weekend.

China plans to launch a returnable spacecraft called Chang'e 5 by 2020, under the third and final phase of the plan. China's space agency aims to solve this using a relay satellite that was launched earlier this year and now sits ready to act as a cosmic operator connecting Earth and the far side via its perch at the second Lagrange point beyond the moon's orbit.

If launched this weekend, Chang'e-4 will likely touch down on the Moon's surface on December 31.

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