China's Lunar Probe Lands Safely on Far Side of Moon

China's Lunar Probe Lands Safely on Far Side of Moon

China launched a relay satellite in May so that Chang'e 4 can send back information.

A Chinese spacecraft on Thursday made the first-ever landing on the far side of the moon, state media said. Our moon has a nifty trick: It's tidally locked to Earth, which means that one half of the lunar surface always faces us, while the other half always faces away from us. The Thursday landing was announced prominently to the public by CCTV at the top of the noon news.

The ambitious mission also signals China's intention to become a global power in space exploration, with Chang'e 3 having in 2013 become the first probe to make a moon landing since the then-Soviet Union's Luna 24 in 1976.

Chang'e-4, a lunar probe, made a soft landing at 2.26am GMT and trasmitted the first ever "close-range" image of the far side of Earth's satellite. On Jan. 3, the Chang'e 4 spacecraft, which includes a rover, performed a soft landing in the moon's Von Karman crater.

The Chang'e-4 probe has already sent back its first pictures from the surface, which were shared by state media.

Macau University of Science and Technology professor Zhu Menghua called the landing "absolutely perfect" and a "big milestone" for China's space exploration because of the technical difficulties of landing in an uncharted territory.

Pink Floyd weren't kidding about the dark side of the moon stuff. Credit PA
Pink Floyd weren't kidding about the dark side of the moon stuff. Credit PA

It communicates with Earth via the Queqiiao relay satellite, which launched in May to enable contact between ground controllers and Chang'e-4. It shows a small crater and an empty surface that appears to be lit by a light from the lunar explorer.

China's mission is to learn more about the little-understood region of the moon and compete with the USA and Russian Federation as a powerhouse of space exploration.

Yu Guobin is a Chang'e 4 mission spokesman.

The images were sent via the relay satellite Queqiao, created to allow radio communication between the far side of the moon and Earth without it being blocked by the near hemisphere.

The transfer mechanism unlocked as planned with one side reaching the moon's surface, allowing the rover to descend to the surface from the slope. The Chinese mission seems to be going flawlessly so far, data will continue to come in for the remainder of the mission, and we hope China continues to share its data. Located over on the far side, it's 1,150 miles (2,500 kilometers) in width and covers nearly one quarter of Earth's natural satellite.

For now, it plans to send a Chang'e 5 probe to the Moon next year and have it return to Earth with samples.

Trump Confident About Reaching Trade Deal with China
An escalating trade war would make the situation even worse. "That puts a lot of pressure on China to make a deal", he said. Fears are growing that the second-longest economic expansion in USA history could slide to a halt next year or in 2020.

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