Thursday, 17 January, 2019

Chinese Spacecraft Sends First Ever Photos Of The Moon's 'Dark Side'

The Long March 3B rocket transporting the Chang'e-4 lunar rover lifting off from the Xichang launch centre in December The Long March 3B rocket transporting the Chang'e-4 lunar rover lifting off from the Xichang launch centre in December
Theresa Hayes | 06 January, 2019, 19:13

Well it turns out that day was today, and the images taken by the spacecraft during its historic landing have been relayed via satellite back to the China National Space Administration (CNSA) and shared online for all the world to see. What is known about the lunar far side is that it is very different from the near side of the moon that the USA put men on during the Apollo era.

The moon's far side isn't always dark but is sometimes called the dark side because it faces away from Earth and is relatively unknown.

The probe, which includes a lander and a rover, touched down at a preselected landing area after it entered the moon's orbit in mid-December, according to China's Xinhua news agency. If successful, this would be the first lunar sample return since the Soviet Luna 24 mission in 1976.

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.

Yung Kai-leung with a model of the Chang'e-4's camera system. We have mastered the technology to land on the far side of the Moon, and the landing technology itself and also the data-reading technology.

The landing "lifted the mysterious veil" of the far side of the moon and "opened a new chapter in human lunar exploration", the agency said in a statement on its website, which included a wide-angle color picture of a crater from the moon's surface. The Chang'e lunar mission is named after the Chinese moon goddess.

The spacecraft landed in the South Pole-Aitken basin, the oldest known impact zone.

One challenge of operating on the far side of the moon is communicating with Earth. China was only the third country, after Russian Federation and the USA, to conduct a crewed mission.

"And this marks one of the milestone events of building a strong space nation", chief designer for the lunar mission, Wu Weiren, told CCTV. It undergoes the same phases of illumination by the Sun as the side facing Earth.

Chang'e 4 touched down on the moon's far surface at 10.26 Beijing time (9.26pm EST) last night, state media reports. The other side, most of which can not be seen from the Earth, is called the far side or dark side because most of it is uncharted.

China was excluded from the International Space Station largely due to concerns over its space program's connections to the military and US legislation barring such cooperation.

Nasa plans to build a manned, lunar-orbiting space station in the 2020s, while India is due...