China’s bold mission to land a probe on the dark side of the Moon
05 January, 2019, 03:40
In May, China launched a relay satellite called Queqiao that's now orbiting about 450,000 kilometers (280,000 miles) from Earth, where a gravitational equilibrium can be maintained so it stays on course to relay messages from the rover back to Earth.
The rover will carry a panoramic camera; a radar to probe beneath the lunar surface; an imaging spectrometer to identify minerals; and an experiment to examine the interaction of the solar wind (a stream of energised particles from the Sun) with the lunar surface. Chang'e-4's instruments could examine whether this was the case, shedding light on the early history of our only natural satellite. The goal is to land on the floor of the Von Karman Crater, a particularly deep lunar crater.
Prior to this, no other mission launched to the far side because there is no direct line of sight between Earth and that part of Moon. The Chang'e 4 rover is 1.5 meters (5 feet) long and about 1 meter (3.3 feet) wide and tall, with two foldable solar panels and six wheels.
China's robotic Chang'e 4 spacecraft streaked away from Earth today (Dec. 7), launching atop a Long March 3B rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center at about 1:23 p.m. EST (1823 GMT; 2:23 a.m. on December 8 local China time).
What would the lander and rover do? One of the difficulties in exploring the far side is radio signal transmission back to earth since it is blocked by the moon and the earth's atmosphere.
There's been no official word on when landing on the moon will take place, but Jones reports it could be january 3. For example, huge, dark basaltic plains called maria cover much of the near side but nearly none of the far side. China also intends to perform Radio-astronomical studies on the far side of the moon that will be free form interference from the Earth's ionosphere, radio frequencies, and auroral radiation noise. A maintained lunar mission is likewise under thought. Researchers will keep tabs on how these organisms live and develop on the lunar surface.
The spacecraft carries a biological experiment as well: a small tin containing silkworm eggs and seeds of tomato and Arabidopsis plants. The probes are Chng'e-1 and Chng'e-2.
The only region of the moon that was previously explored by robotic and manned missions is the near-side - the region that is always facing Earth - because it allows easier communication with ground control.
Besides, the CNAS is also planning to launch the Chang'e-5 next year.
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"The design of the Chang'e 4 lunar rover has been improved based on the previous one, meaning it could work for at least a few years on the moon", Wu Weiren, chief designer of the CLEP, said in August.
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