China dispatches mission to investigate clouded side of the Moon

Rodiano Bonacci
Dicembre 15, 2018

The synchronicity of the earth and moon's rotations ensures that the far side of the moon is always facing away from the earth, a phenomenon known as "tidal locking".

China's Chang'e 4 robotic probe has approached the moon and entered lunar orbit, marking a major step in its mission to make a soft landing on the moon's far side. The lunar far-side mission, Chang'e 4, which launched on December 7, 2018 and arrived in lunar orbit 4.5 days later, was designed as a backup for Chang'e 3.

The Chang'e 4 mission is to be followed by China's first sample return mission, Chang'e 5, which could launch in late 2019 on a Long March 5 rocket.

Three scientific and technological experiments, designed by Chinese universities, will also be carried out during the mission. This is one reason why an unprecedented, soft landing on the far side of the Moon is a big deal for the country.

Chang'e 4, the first man-made object created to touch down on the moon's far side, was lifted atop a Long March 3B carrier rocket early on Saturday at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan province to embark on mankind's first expedition to a lunar region that never faces Earth.

In may 2018 China launched a special relay satellite which will provide communication between the Earth and the moon probe. It is the world's first communication satellite operating in that orbit, according to CNSA.

The spacecraft is expected to travel 26 days before reaching its destination: the moon's South Pole-Aitken basin, which is widely believed by scientists to be the largest and deepest basin in the solar system, the probe's developer China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp said.

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.

In orbit, the relay satellite can "see" both the earth and the far side of the moon.

Chang'e is the goddess of the moon in Chinese folklore. The spacecraft re-entered the earth's atmosphere at a speed of about 11.2 km per second. In this aspect, it's clear that China's space lunar exploration program is eager to outdo USA efforts.

Saturday's launch was the 294th mission of the Long March rocket series.

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