Wednesday, 16 January, 2019

Chinese rover leaves first-ever ‘footprint’ on dark side of moon

Chang'e 4 spacecraft lands on far side of the Moon in world first for China China claims to have landed spacecraft in unexplored side of Moon
Sandy Nunez | 06 January, 2019, 15:43

A model of the moon lander for China's Chang'e 4 lunar probe is displayed at the China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition or Zhuhai Airshow in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, China.

The moon was first visited by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin in 1969, and the US, the former Soviet Union, and China have all landed spacecraft on its surface in the years since.

Owned by the China research unit, lander, Chang'e-4 Thursday, January 3, landed on the moon, becoming the first camera in the history of mankind who managed a successful soft landing on the opposite side of the natural satellite of our planet.

The Jade Rabbit 2 rover drove off a ramp and onto the moon at 2:22pm GMT on Thursday, about 12 hours after the Chang'e 4 spacecraft touched down.

This weekend, the spacecraft entered an elliptical path around the moon in preparation for landing, bringing it as close as 15 km away from the lunar surface.

The landing confirmed China's military-run space programme as a leading power as competition builds to explore the moon after a decades-long lull.

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

This mission is just one part of China's growing space exploration ambitions.

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In 2013, the predecessor spacecraft Chang'e 3 made the first moon landing since the former Soviet Union's Luna 24 in 1976.

The probe will conduct astronomical studies and surveys of the surface's mineral composition and radiation tests of the surrounding environment.

To overcome that, a satellite named Queqiao (Magpie Bridge) after an ancient Chinese folk tale was blasted into the moon's orbit in May, to act as a link between the lander and Earth.

Photos of the rover leaving humankind's first tracks there on Thursday night were sent back to Earth by the lander after the vehicle separated from it.

The next phase of China's lunar exploration will kick off in late 2019 with the launch of Chang'e 5.

"There are rocks all over the far side that are four billion years old", she continued.

Lunar project chief designer Wu Weiren called the separation of the rover "a small step for the rover, but one giant leap for the Chinese nation". You can't send signals directly from the far side back to Earth because the surface points out into deep space. Its plans include establishing a permanent manned space station, a manned lunar landing, and eventually probes to Mars.