Thursday, 17 January, 2019

China successfully launches lunar probe

It's Official: A Lander Is Headed to The Far Side of The Moon China Launches Probe To Become First Nation To Explore Dark Side Of The Moon
Doris Mccormick | 10 December, 2018, 12:01

A Long March 3B rocket lifts off from China's Sichuan province early on December 8, carrying a rover destined to land on the far side of the moon.

It is expected to land in the Von Karman crater, located on the back side of the moon.

The launch was made possible due to state moon research funding provided by the China National Space Administration, which will enable the Asian state to rapidly expand its space capacities.

China landed its Yutu, or "Jade Rabbit", rover on the moon five years ago and plans to send its Chang'e 5 probe there next year and have it return to Earth with samples - the first time that will have been done since 1976.

China has promoted worldwide cooperation in its lunar exploration program, with four scientific payloads of the Chang'e-4 mission developed by scientists from the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden and Saudi Arabia.

The moon's far side is also known as the dark side because it faces away from Earth and remains comparatively unknown. But why so is still a mystery.

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"We want to study the respiration of the seeds and the photosynthesis on the Moon", explained Liu Hanlong, who is chief director of the experiment and vice president of Chongqing University. To get around that, China launched a relay satellite in May that will allow the probe to stay in contact with the scientists. The sunlight there can ensure the probe's energy supply.

"So the landing accuracy of Chang'e-4 must be higher than Chang'e-3", Wu said.

Those measurements will be easier to make from the moon because it will act as a giant shield against electromagnetic interference coming from Earth. This meant that the craft would need to communicate with a satellite above it that was facing the Earth.

Plans for the Chinese mission include gathering moon rock and soil from the region, which past NASA studies have shown to have a thicker crust than the face.

The Soviet Union was the first nation to shed light on the moon's dark side when it captured the first images of its surface in 1959, exposing a mountainous and craggy geography radically different from the more familiar half. Two probes have been put in Lunar orbit, Chang'e-1 and 2. It was then tasked to fly by and observe the Toutatis asteroid, about 7 million km from the earth, and continued its journey into deep space. Today the spacecraft starts from the center of the satellite launch at the Xichang. The scientific instruments on its lander are still operating, making Chang'e-3 the longest working man-made probe on the moon.

The Chang'e 4 mission is a step in that direction, significant for the engineering expertise needed to explore and settle the moon, McDowell said.

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