Chinese spacecraft to attempt first landing on far side of the moon

Color-Full Moon Credit Nicolas Lefaudeux

Color-Full Moon Credit Nicolas Lefaudeux

The tasks of the Chang'e-4 probe include low-frequency radio astronomical observation, surveying the terrain and landforms, detecting the mineral composition, and measuring the neutron radiation and neutral atoms to study the environment on the far side of the moon, Xinhua quoted the China National Space Administration as saying.

Because of a phenomenon called "tidal locking", we see only one "face" of the Moon from Earth.

Chang'e is a series of probes that China has launched into orbit and landed on the moon. Here, the satellite will be able to constantly transmit communications between mission controllers on Earth and the lander-rover on the lunar surface.

Landing in this unexplored region will enable Chang'e-4's rover to better study the moon and space because of the lack of electromagnetic interference from Earth.

China will use the preceding three weeks in lunar orbit to take images of the surface, and ensure the landing site is clear of obstacles.

The CNSA hasn't revealed the landing site of the rover, though Zongcheng Ling, a planetary scientist at Shandong University, told Scientific American that the rover is most likely to land in Von Kármán, a 115-wide crater. The rover will measure the subsurface layer leveraging its ground-penetrating radar.

Chang'e 4 features a total of eight scientific instruments.

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This gear will allow Chang'e 4 to characterize its surroundings in great detail. There are also few of the "mare" - dark basaltic "seas" created by lava flows - that are evident on the near side.

The mission will also characterise the "radio environment" on the far side, a test created to lay the groundwork for the creation of future radio astronomy telescopes on the far side, which is shielded from the radio noise of Earth. 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). Researchers will keep tabs on how these organisms live and develop on the lunar surface.

The trip to the moon will take 27 days after launch. Operating about 400,000km (250,000 miles) from the Earth, Queqiao will pass on signals to the lunar lander and rover of Chang'e 4.

This mission will be followed by Chang'e 5 and 6, which will attempt to collect lunar samples and bring them back to Earth. In December 2013, Chang'e 3 put a lander and a rover named Yutu down on the moon's near side.

And then there's the crewed side of things.

NASA is pursuing a dual path of building a lunar orbital platform and returning astronauts to the moon in the mid-2020s, with the eventual aim to send humans to Mars.

The country also plans to launch its first Mars probe by the end of this decade, according to a white paper on China's space activities issued in 2016.

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