The 'dark' side of the moon

Pablo Tucker
January 7, 2019

Wu Weiren, chief designer of the lunar exploration project, told the state broadcaster CCTV: "This giant leap is a decisive move for our exploration of space and the conquering of the universe".

All systems are go as a Chinese spacecraft and rover power up their observation equipment after making a first-ever landing on the far side of the moon, the Chinese National Space Administration said.

Chinese websites released several images captured during the lander's descent, and then revealed several more pictures taken of the mission's six-wheeled rover as it drove down a ramp and onto the lunar surface.

Nevertheless, this is a significant step in China's bid to become a leading power in space exploration, alongside the United States and Russian Federation.

This close-up photo taken by the Chang'e-4 probe shows the far side of the Moon.

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 Yutu 2 rover moving across the far side of the moon.

The successful landing formally inaugurated the world's first expedition to the far side and is expected to fulfil scientists' long-held aspiration to closely observe the enormous region.

China's space programme lags America's, but has made great strides in the past 15 years, including manned flights and a space laboratory that is seen as a precursor to plans for a space station. There had been no confirmation as to exactly what time it will touch down, but state-run China Daily reported (via BBC News) that the Chang'e-4 would start descending on its thrusters sometime between January 2 to 3.

Chang'e-4 is carrying six experiments from China and four from overseas, including low-frequency radio astronomical studies - aiming to take advantage of the lack of interference on the moons' far side. It can climb a 20-degree hill or an obstacle up to 8 inches tall.

"The surface is soft and it is similar to that when you are walking on the snow", rover designer Shen Zhenrong of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation said on CCTV.

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