China Lands Probe on Moon's Far Side, Makes Space Exploration History

James Marshall
September 22, 2019

A Chinese probe has made the first-ever landing on the far side of the moon, according to state media, in a groundbreaking mission in space exploration. The Communist controlled Global Times also said the probe had "successfully made the first-ever soft landing" on the far side of the moon. The lander sent back images taken shortly after its touchdown as well as a photo of the rover slowly rolling across the dusty lunar surface.

The pioneering landing demonstrates China's growing ambitions as a space power. Just $5 a month.

The mission was launched early December.

The public was kept in suspense about the landing itself for more than an hour after it occurred, with state broadcaster CCTV announcing it at the top of the noon news.

The Chang'e-4, a robotic probe consisting of a lander and a rover, touched down at 10:26 a.m.

Chang'e 3: First unmanned Moon landing of the Chang'e effort.

The United States is the only country to have landed humans on the moon, and Trump said in 2017 he wanted to return astronauts to the lunar surface to build a foundation for an eventual Mars mission. But the Chang'e-4 landing opens the mysterious far side for up-close exploration. And here we are, in 2018, with another Chinese space mission goal achieved as per the deadline set.

It relayed a photo of the "dark side" of the moon to the Queqiao satellite, which will relay communications between controllers on Earth and the far side of the moon. It has a different composition than the near side, where previous missions have landed.

Chang'e-4's lander is carrying an instrument called the Low Frequency Spectrometer (LFS) which can make low frequency radio observations.

The far side of the moon is exactly what it sounds like - the part of the moon that is always facing away from Earth.

Thus, the mission will fill a gap in astronomical observation, allowing scientists to study cosmic phenomena in a way that has never been possible from our planet.

It is known as the far side because only the near side of the Moon can be seen from Earth, as the Moon takes the same time to spin on its axis as it takes to complete one full orbit. However, China has revealed that its Chang'e-4 lander has now touched down and has sent back stunning images.

China conducted its first crewed space mission in 2003, making it only the third country after Russian Federation and the United States to do so.

It is among a slew of ambitious Chinese targets, which include a reusable launcher by 2021, a super-powerful rocket capable of delivering payloads heavier than those NASA and private rocket firm SpaceX can handle, a moon base, a permanently crewed space station, and a Mars rover.

The landing showed China's space program had achieved the technological capability required for a tricky project, said Richard de Grijs, an astrophysics professor who was until a year ago based at Peking University's Kavli Institute.

On Thursday morning, rumors of the landing spread on Chinese social media.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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