Chinese craft lands on dark side of the moon

Katie Ramirez
January 6, 2019

The probe, containing a lander and a rover, was launched on a Long March 3B rocket from Xichang in the south of the country on 8 December.

While China's space program still lags America's, he said "China has already positioned itself at least as good as Russian Federation and the European Union". "There are many who worry that the Chinese will put a man on the moon before we're able to do it again", Chang said. With no direct communication link to Earth, all data sent by the probe go through a separate satellite first before getting relayed to ground control.

The landing is the latest step for China in its race to catch up with Russian Federation and the United States and become a major space power by 2030.

In year-end wrap-ups last month, China's state-run media hailed the launch of Chang'e 4 as one of the nation's biggest achievements in 2018.

The Chang'e 4 landing was announced by state broadcaster China Central Television at the top of its noon news broadcast yesterday. The mission harbored some risk, because operators on Earth can not directly communicate with spacecraft on the moon's far side. Instead, Chang'e 4 used hazard-avoidance software to check for hazards at the landing site, as David Rothery explains at The Conversation today.

"The exploration will give us more information about the Moon than we have ever known, and that is critical", said Prof Zhu. "On Mars, you can pick out smooth areas". The United States is still the only country to have humans step foot on the moon.

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What is the far side of the moon?

A Chinese spacecraft has become the first to land on the far side of the moon, according to state media.

Similar in design to the Chang'e-3 - which landed on the moon's near side in 2013 - the probe consists of a 300-pound (136-kilogram) mobile rover and a 2,400-pound (1,088-kilogram) robotic lander.

The transfer mechanism unlocked as planned with one side reaching the moon's surface, allowing the rover to descend to the surface from the slope. Knowing the age and chemical composition of this crash zone would help understand Earth's ancient history better, said Purdue's Melosh. When Chang'e 3 landed successfully, the team set to work reconfiguring Chang'e 4 for its far side deployment.

Always facing away from Earth, the far side's terrain is covered with impact craters, including Von Kármán in the South Pole-Aitken Basin, which Chang'e-4 is primed to explore.

"The far side of the Moon is so meaningful". Beijing plans to launch construction of its own manned space station next year.

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