Sunday, 26 May, 2019

China launches pioneering mission to far side of moon

In space first China launches lunar rover to far side of the moon	 	 	 			China's Chang'e-4 lunar probe rover In space first China launches lunar rover to far side of the moon China's Chang'e-4 lunar probe rover
Sandy Nunez | 08 December, 2018, 22:54

China launched its Chang'e 4 lander and rover today (December 8, 2:22 a.m. local time) from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre, as part of a mission that hopes to land on the far side of the Moon.

"Our country´s successful lunar exploration project not only vaults us to the top of the world´s space power ranks, it also allows the exploration of the far side of the moon", said Niu Min, an expert on China´s space programme.

"Chang´e-4 is humanity´s first probe to land on and explore the far side of the moon", said the mission´s chief commander He Rongwei of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, the main state-owned space contractor.

The Chang'e-4 lunar probe mission blasted off on a Long March 3B rocket from Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China in the pre-dawn hours on Saturday, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

Since the moon's revolution cycle is the same as its rotation cycle, the same side always faces the earth.

To send a craft to the moon's far side that can still be controlled from Earth, Chinese scientists had to first tackle the problem of communication.

China plans to launch Chang'e 5 next year, a mission to return samples from the Moon. The other face, most of which can not be seen from earth, is called the far side or dark side, not because it's dark, but because most of it remains unknown.

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FILE - A worker inspects a scale model of the moon rover for China's Chang'e 4 lunar probe, at a factory in Dongguan, Guangdong province, China, Nov. 16, 2018.

China has promoted global cooperation in its lunar exploration program, with four scientific payloads of the Chang'e-4 mission developed by scientists from Netherlands, Germany, Sweden and Saudi Arabia.

Scientists believe the special electromagnetic environment and geological features on the far side of the moon will be suitable for low-frequency radio astronomical observation and research into lunar substances composition.

Three scientific and technological experiments, designed by Chinese universities, will also be carried out during the mission.

The Moon is tidally locked to Earth, rotating at the same rate that it orbits our planet, so the far side is never visible from Earth.

To solve this problem, the Chinese team launched a satellite into the L2 Lagrange point-one of the five points in a two-body system where the gravitational pull from both bodies nullifies the net effect enough for an object to be stable in that space without tumbling away into space. The earth's and moon's gravity balances the orbital motion of the satellite and makes it very fuel-efficient. Its program also suffered a rare setback past year with the failed launch of its Long March 5 rocket.