Chinese spacecraft makes first landing on far side of the moon

Pablo Tucker
January 6, 2019

China has reignited the space race by becoming the first country to land a spacecraft on the far side of the moon. That mission was only a partial success, since the rover suffered serious problems and died less than two months on the Moon, although the lander is still operational.

China's lunar craft Chang'e 4 has released its rover Yutu 2 to explore the far side of the moon after making the world's first soft landing on the moon's uncharted side on Thursday.

One challenge of sending a probe to the moon's far side is communicating with it from Earth, so China launched a relay satellite in May to enable Chang'e 4 to send back information. And what exactly is the "far side of the Moon", anyway? There are also four global payloads jointly developed by scientists from Germany, Sweden, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, and China.

The experts then sent the separation order to the spacecraft via "Queqiao".

The Chinese rover has six powered wheels, allowing it to continue to operate even if one wheel fails.

"It can drive at a maximum speed of 200 metres (220 yards) per hour, and climb up slopes of up to 20 degrees and navigate over obstacles 20cm (8") tall.

Legend has it that Chang'e, after swallowing a magic pill, took her pet and flew toward the moon where she became a goddess and has lived with the white jade rabbit ever since.

Beijing is planning to send another lunar lander, Chang'e-5, next year to collect samples and bring them back to Earth.

The pioneering achievement is another demonstration of China's ambitions to be a space power.

The last time a crewed vessel landed on the Moon was Apollo 17 in 1972.

The probe landed at 10:26am Beijing time and relayed a photo of the "dark side" of the moon to the Queqiao satellite, which will relay communications between controllers on Earth and the far side of the moon.

The moon's far side is not always dark. The tidal lockstep means that humans can't see the far side of the moon without sending a spacecraft there, which first happened in October 1959, with the flight of the Soviet Union's Luna 3 probe.

The probe will conduct astronomical studies and surveys of the surface's mineral composition and radiation tests of the surrounding environment. The rover is 3.3 feet across (1 meter) and weighs 310 pounds (140 kg), significantly smaller than NASA's Mars-based Curiosity. "You can get on the moon and so can we I think this is very good".

The Chang'e 4 mission is a coup for China's ambitious lunar and space exploration programs.

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