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China lands spacecraft on ‘dark’ side of moon in world first

07 January 2019
China lands spacecraft on ‘dark’ side of moon in world first

Every semester, Purdue University lunar and planetary scientist Jay Melosh demonstrates how the far side gets light using a bright light as the sun and students playing the roles of the moon and the Earth.

China's state-run TV reports that Chang'e 4 unloaded its rover onto the surface following the landing.

China has released the first pictures ever seen of the surface of the far side of the Moon.

China's space agency has posted the first photo of its Chang'e 4 lunar rover on the far side of the moon after its groundbreaking touchdown on Thursday. The surface of the landing site that China chose is surprisingly smooth compared to images we have seen of the landing site NASA chose for its first moon mission.

The tasks of the Chang'e-4 include astronomical observation, surveying the moon's terrain, landform and mineral makeup, and measuring the neutron radiation and neutral atoms to study the environment of its far side. This represents a true "first", as no country has ever reached the far side of the Moon, where there is no means of direct communication with Earth.

This mission is just one part of China's growing space exploration ambitions. "We believe that it will be necessary and very meaningful to have samples back from the far side of the Moon", said Yang in an in interview with the China Global Television Network (CGTN).

Everything wrong with Armageddon- according to an astrophysicist
Everything wrong with Armageddon- according to an astrophysicist

Some spacecraft have crashed into the far side, either after system failures, or after they had completed their mission.

This file picture taken early on December 8, 2018, shows a Long March 3B rocket, transporting the Chang'e-4 lunar rover, lifting off from the Xichang launch centre in Xichang in China's southwestern Sichuan province.

The photograph of the far side of the moon shows a barren, desert-like surface pockmarked by a crater.

As a solution, China in May blasted the Queqiao ("Magpie Bridge") satellite into the moon's orbit, positioning it so that it can relay data and commands between the lander and Earth.

China conducted its first crewed space mission in 2003, becoming only the third country to do so after Russian Federation and the U.S. It has put a pair of space stations into orbit and plans to launch a Mars rover in the mid-2020s. Its space program suffered a rare setback past year with the failed launch of its Long March 5 rocket.

Lunar project chief designer Wu Weiren called the separation of the rover "a small step for the rover, but one giant leap for the Chinese nation". "And we're gradually realizing it".