China is all ready for their lunar space mission

Pat Wise
December 12, 2018

The primary goals of the mission include low-frequency radio astronomical observation, the far side of the moon is particularly well suited to radio observation as it is blocked from most interference from Earth. Its planned landing site is the Von Kármán crater and once there, its task is to perform a variety of science experiences to determine the mineral composition of rocks and soil on the far side, and to explore the region's geology. No lander or rover has ever touched the surface there and if the Chang'e-4 manages to do the same, it will be global first. In contrast, the near-side of the moon always faces the Earth and offers many flat areas to lunar spacecraft to touch down on. If the mission launches tomorrow, Chang'e-4 will touch down on the Moon's regolith on December 31. "In truth, the only dark side of the Moon is the side that is pointed away from the Sun at any given time", says NASA.

It was not until 1959 that the Soviet Union captured the first images of the heavily cratered surface, uncloaking some of the mystery of the moon's "dark side".

The probe will be landing on the far side of the moon, which will be an achievement for the Chinese space program: the last time someone saw the moon's far side was in 1968 when the Apollo mission flew around it.

If you're tempted to make a Pink Floyd joke, remember this: "The side of the Moon we do not see from Earth gets just as much sunlight on it as the side we do see". To land on a crater in the Aitken basin the South pole is provided. Formed via a cataclysmic impact rather than by volcanism, this imposing site is 2,500 kilometre (1,553 miles) across and is more than six times as deep as the Grand Canyon. No-one knows for sure, but with a Lunar penetrating radar on board, Chang'e 4's rover might be able to shed some light on the matter. The rover was launched from Xichang Satellite Launch Centre and is expected to land on the lunar surface around the New Year.

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Because it was originally built as a backup to the Chang'e-3, the two spacecraft are similar in weight.

'The implementation of the Chang'e-4 mission has helped our country make the leap from following to leading in the field of lunar exploration, ' Liu added.

To facilitate communication between controllers on Earth and the Chang'e 4 mission, China in May launched a relay satellite named Queqiao, or "Magpie Bridge", after an ancient Chinese folk tale.

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