Chinese rover sends first pictures from the dark side of the moon

04 January, 2019, 05:19 | Author: Bridget Leonard
  • This is what the dark side of the moon looks like from ground level. Image credits China Global Television Network

The landing highlights China's growing ambitions to rival the U.S., Russian Federation and Europe in space, and more broadly, to cement the nation's position as a regional and global power.

A Chinese spacecraft on Thursday made the first-ever landing on the far side of the moon, state media said. 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.

Harvard astronomer Avi Loeb said that in the future, it may be possible to see much farther - and thus earlier - into the universe from the far side because the moon itself will block interfering radio signals from Earth.

TRT World spoke to Associate Professor of Astrophysics at Keele University Jacco van Loon.

Last night, China achieved a first by successfully soft-landing a spacecraft in a crater on the far side of the Moon.

The Chang'e-4 probe, carrying eight payloads including two developed through global cooperation, will conduct low-frequency radio astronomical observation, survey the terrain and landforms, detect the mineral composition and shallow lunar surface structure and measure the neutron radiation and neutral atoms to study the environment on the far side of the moon, according to CNSA.

According to the Xinhua News Agency (a state media network), the Chang'e 4 probe launched from Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan Province on a Long March-3B carrier rocket on December 8, 2018, and has orbited the Moon since December 12.

According to official Chinese government sponsored news media the China National Space Administration (CNSA) landed the robotic lunar lander in the unexplored South Pole-Aitken basin, the largest, deepest, crater on the lunar surface.

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

However, this only refers to the side of the moon being unseen on earth - it still receives sunlight. Yang Liwei, Deputy Director of China's Manned Space Agency, said in March 2018 that the separate parts of the T-shaped station will be launched and assembled in orbit, according to SpaceTechAsia.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine praised the achievement.

It communicates with Earth via the Queqiiao relay satellite, which launched in May to enable contact between ground controllers and Chang'e-4. The landing was announced by state broadcaster China Central Television at the top of its noon news broadcast.

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

Davis said China's successful landing could "set a fire under the Americans", who may not like the idea that the next person to set foot on the moon may be a Chinese Taikonaut, as they are unofficially called.

What is the "far side of the Moon"? Landing missions are also few and far between - and as for the dark side, there have been none to speak of until now.

China carried out its first crewed space mission in 2003.


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