China dispatches mission to investigate clouded side of the Moon

Color-Full Moon Credit Nicolas Lefaudeux

China is going to the far side of the moon

If successful, the historic undertaking could substantially deepen the world's understanding of the moon and the solar system.

"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 CASTC. However, very few things are known about the dark side of the Moon.

Chang'e-4 is carrying multiple other experiments on board.

As a solution, China in May blasted the Queqiao ( "Magpie Bridge ") satellite into the moon's orbit, positioning it so that it can relay data and commands between the lander and earth.

Although the landing date has not yet been officially announced, Chang'e-4 is expected to attempt to touch down on the Moon's surface sometime early next month. They include low-frequency radio astronomical studies aiming to take advantage of the lack of interference on the far side mineral tests, and experiments planting a potato and other seeds.

'The implementation of the Chang'e-4 mission has helped our country make the leap from following to leading in the field of lunar exploration, ' Liu added. Chang'e-3's rover, Yutu, or Jade Rabbit, worked almost six weeks before suffering "mechanical abnormalities", and transmitted data only intermittently for the rest of its 31-month life.

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However, the successful landing of Chang'e-3 meant that Chang'e-4 was available for use.

Chang'e is the goddess of the moon in Chinese mythology. The lander weighs 2,600 pounds and the rover weighs just over 300 pounds. Reports also suggest that the scientific instruments used for China's robotic Chang'e-4 are going to be appointed to analyze the surface and subsurface of the region.

This launch will end the second phase of China's three-phase lunar exploration program. That mission, however, went swimmingly - China managed the first soft landing of any spacecraft on the moon since 1976. The third and final phase, which will use the Chang'e-5 and Chang'e-6 crafts, will collect and return lunar samples.

No lander or rover has ever touched the surface there, positioning China as the first nation to explore the area.

The mission is one of a series of lofty ambitions for China's military-led space program, including a super-heavy lift vehicle of greater payload capacity than SpaceX and NASA's, a reusable launch vehicle by 2021, a Mars rover, a permanently crewed space station and a moon base.

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