China lands first probe on the dark side of the moon

This is what the dark side of the moon looks like from ground level. Image credits China Global Television Network

"Congratulations to China's Chang'e-4 team for what appears to be a successful landing on the far side of the Moon".

The probe, comprised of a lander and a rover, touched down at the preselected landing area at 177.6 degrees east longitude and 45.5 degrees south latitude on the far side of the moon at 10:26 a.m. (Beijing Time), the China National Space Administration (CNSA) announced.

China's Chang'e-4 spacecraft successfully landed on the far side of the moon this morning Beijing time, accomplishing a worldwide first in lunar exploration.

The moon's far side is not always dark. Therefore, only one side of the moon is seen from earth, leaving the far side a mystery before the age of spacecraft.

China has landed a spacecraft on the far side of the Moon in a world first, according to state-run media.

Chang'e-4's mission is to survey the moon's terrain, measure the neutron radiation and neutral atoms to study the environment of its far side.

The Chang'e 4 lunar probe mission - named after the moon goddess in Chinese mythology - was launched in December from the southwestern Xichang launch center.

As we've previously reported, the Chang'e-4 lander will relay messages via the Queqiao satellite, which is now sitting in orbit around the Moon. A subsequent Chang'e-5 probe mission is being planned, which will gather samples and actually return to the Earth, the first time a man-made object will be sent to the Moon and return to Earth since 1976.

The near and far side of the moon. Credits NASA
The near and far side of the moon. Credits NASA

China's Chang'e-4 combination lander and rover was sent into space in early December, and followed a slow but energy-efficient route from Earth to the moon over the course of multiple orbits.

This may reinforce the concern of some lunar scientists and spaceflight experts, who warn that if we want to see the Moon developed under Western norms of freedom and openness, then NASA and United States businesses had better lead the return and development of the Moon during the coming decade.

This photo provided on January 3, 2019, by China National Space Administration via Xinhua News Agency shows an image taken by China's Chang'e-4 probe during its landing process. That's when space rocks were careening off each other and crashing into moons and planets, including Earth.

Chang'e-4 mission has four scientific payloads developed by scientists from the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden and Saudi Arabia.

"The current landing location is our most ideal landing place, in other word, we are right on target". Chang'e 4 is the fourth lunar probe launched by China since the country's lunar programme was opened in 2004.

"Scientists believe that the back of the moon is more ancient than the front", CNSA explains (via translation).

The far side is markedly different to the hemisphere facing Earth.

Months back, China launched relay satellites that help the lander and rover to remain in contact with its handlers on Earth despite not being in direct line-of-sight.

FTSE 100 up after record-breaking Wall Street rally
Despite this, United States markets were still on track for their worst December since the height of the Great Depression in 1931. The Nasdaq was up 4 percent and on track to wipe out Monday's losses. the S&P posted a 2.9 percent pop in afternoon trading.

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