China Spacecraft Attempting First Lunar Landing on Dark Side of the Moon

China Spacecraft Attempting First Lunar Landing on Dark Side of the Moon

China hopes to be the first country to ever successfully undertake such a landing, AP said.

The rover of Chang'e 4 will land on the moon in about two weeks' time. Put simply, Earth's tidal forces have slowed down Moon's rotation to the point where only one side, which we see, faces Earth, while the other (far side) remains hidden.

One reason no attempt has ever been made to visit the distant side of the moon is that the lack of a line of sight makes direct communications with a spacecraft hard. These temperature swings proved too much for Chang'e 4's predecessor, Chang'e 3, which landed on the moon on December 14, 2013.

The moon is tidally locked to Earth, meaning the natural satellite takes about the same amount of time to spin once on its axis as it does to orbit our planet.

China plans to launch spacecraft on never explored side of moon, exhibiting its developing aspirations as a space capacity to match Russian Federation, the European Union and US.

Why was no mission launched to the far side?

A Chang'e-4 probe is to launch from Xichang Satellite Launch Center in south-west China early Saturday. Queqiao has set up shop at the Earth-moon Lagrange point 2, a gravitationally stable spot beyond the moon from which the satellite will be able to relay communications between mission control and Chang'e 4.

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Von Kármán crater is of interest to scientists because it is located within the oldest and largest impact feature on the Moon - the South Pole-Aitken Basin.

The rover sports the Panoramic Camera (PCAM), the Lunar Penetrating Radar (LPR), the Visible and Near-Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (VNIS), and the Advanced Small Analyzer for Neutrals (ASAN), a contribution from Sweden. It's mission will be to explore the composition of the lunar surface.

And in October 2014, China launched Chang'e 5T1, which sent a test capsule on an eight-day trip around the moon that ended in a parachute-aided touchdown here on Earth.

Believe it or not, the far side of the moon is also something of a coveted spot for astronomers who have talked for decades of building observatories on the lunar backside, far away from the bothersome interference of Earth's atmosphere.

The static lander will carry a 3kg container with potato and arabidopsis plant seeds to perform a biological experiment. "But first, we have to practise operating a mission from the far side first, and that's what Chang'e 4 will help us do".

Incorporating U.S. companies is a key principle of NASA's plan to extend human space exploration first to the moon and then to Mars. Upon arrival at our rocky satellite, an accompanying lander, which doubles as a rover, will descend towards the surface.

Chang'e-5 and 6 are sample return missions, delivering lunar rock and soil to laboratories on Earth.

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