March 26, 2019

China rover lands on dark side of the moon

03 January 2019, 07:53 | Edward Lowe

The lander for China's Chang'e-4 lunar probe Credit Xinhua Barcroft Images

China's Chang'e-4 lunar probe

The blast-off marked the start of a long journey to the far side of the moon for the Chang'e-4 mission.

"Since the far side of the Moon is shielded from electromagnetic interference from the Earth, it's an ideal place to research the space environment and solar bursts, and the probe can "listen" to the deeper reaches of the cosmos," said Tongjie Liu, deputy director of the Lunar Exploration and Space Program Center at China's National Space Administration.

China's Chang'e-4 lunar probe is expected to make the first-ever soft landing on the far side of the moon. The Communist party-owned Global Times also said the probe had "successfully made the first-ever soft landing" on the far side of the moon.

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To overcome that, a satellite named Queqiao (Magpie Bridge) after an ancient Chinese folk tale was blasted into the moon's orbit in May, to act as a link between the lander and Earth.

Previous spacecraft have seen the far side of the moon but have never landed on it. It is also known as the dark side of the moon.

It was not until 1959 that the Soviet Union captured the first images of the heavily cratered surface, uncloaking some of the mystery of the moon's "dark side".

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"This is one of the first times they've done something that no one else has done before".

The mission of Chang'e 4, which is carrying a rover, includes carrying out low-frequency radio astronomical observations and probing the structure and mineral composition of the terrain.

Karl Bergquist, the European Space Agency's worldwide 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".

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