China launches Chang'e-4 probe to shed light on moon's dark side

10 December, 2018, 12:02 | Author: Dwayne Harmon
  • The moon

A rocket carrying the Chang'e-4 probe took off from a space center in Sichuan Province on Saturday morning.

Chang'e-4 will be the second Chinese probe to land on the moon.

China launched a rover early Saturday destined to land on the far side of the moon, a global first that would boost Beijing's ambitions to become a space superpower, state media said. The craft also carry three cameras and a mini biosphere for a first-ever test of photosynthesis and respiration in the low-gravity lunar environment.

China has promoted worldwide cooperation in its lunar exploration program, with four scientific payloads of the Chang'e-4 mission developed by scientists from the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden and Saudi Arabia.

Beijing plans to launch its first Mars probe around 2020 to carry out orbital and rover exploration, followed by a mission that would include collection of surface samples from the Red Planet.

It would also like to develop a moon base through several manned missions. Earlier spacecraft had already examined the dark surface of the moon, but has not yet landed on it.

The Moon's far side is blocked off from the radio noise of Earth, and could serve as a potential location for a radio telescope.

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"She's heading to a place that has a special importance for the study of the moon".

The Chang'e 4's signals will likely be coming from the floor of the Von Kármán Crater.

Scientists hope to land the probe in an area with many geological features such as the transition zone between highlands and basins to get more scientific information.

The mission will be supported by the Queqiao relay satellite, launched in May and placed in orbit beyond the Moon in June. The Chang'e-3 lunar lander was the first since 1976.

Chinese scientists and astronauts are barred from using the International Space Station, as the USA government refuses to work with China on space endeavors.

Chang'e-2, launched in 2010, created a full lunar map with a resolution of 7 meters, as well as images of the Sinus Iridum, or the Bay of Rainbows, with a resolution of 1.5 meters, showing the details of the proposed landing site of Chang'e-3.

To solve this problem, the Chinese team launched a satellite into the L2 Lagrange point-one of the five points in a two-body system where the gravitational pull from both bodies nullifies the net effect enough for an object to be stable in that space without tumbling away into space. "Chang'e" takes its name from the goddess of the moon in Chinese mythology.

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