China rover lands on dark side of the moon

Cristina Cross
January 3, 2019

It is the first time a soft landing has been performed on the Moon's far side - also known as the dark side because it faces away from earth and remains comparatively unknown - due to challenges relaying signals.

A Chinese spacecraft has become the first to land successfully on the far side of the moon, according to state media.

Chang'e 4 was launched atop a Long March 3B carrier rocket on December 8 at the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in southwest China's Sichuan province. All lunar landing probes to date travelled only to the near side, since it is easier to establish and maintain direct radio communication with the entire near side of the moon.

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 far side.

The Chang'e 4 spacecraft touched down at 10:26am local time, the official China Central Television said.

The landing "lifted the mysterious veil" from the far side of the moon and "opened a new chapter in human lunar exploration", the broadcaster said.

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China, which is investing billions in its military-run space programme, has previously said it hopes to have a crewed space station by 2022.

The China National Space Administration (CNSA) landed the robotic probe, Chang'e 4 in the unexplored South Pole-Aitken basin, the largest, oldest, deepest, crater on the moon's surface.

The lander with Jade Rabbit touched down in 2013, making it the first soft landing on the Moon since 1976.

If the mission is successful, scientists will have the opportunity to explore Moon's environment, which will be a great leap forward not only for China, but for the whole world. Chang'e 5 will include a lunar lander and a rover that could return to Earth after collecting samples and performing lunar surveys.

China aims to catch up with Russian Federation and the United States to become a major space power by 2030.

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