Science

Chang'e 4 makes historic first landing on the moon's far side

Chang'e 4 makes historic first landing on the moon's far side”

The lander sent back images taken shortly after its touchdown as well as a photo of the rover slowly rolling across the dusty lunar surface.

China's growing ambitions in space go hand in hand with its more terrestrial competition with the United States.

China has said it wants to become a leading power in space exploration alongside Russian Federation and the US.

The Chang'e-4 mission launched in December 2018 and touched down on the lunar surface this month.

The public was kept in suspense about the landing itself for more than an hour after it occurred, with state broadcaster CCTV announcing it at the top of the noon news.

"On the whole, China's space technology still lags behind the West, but with the landing on the far side of the moon, we have raced to the front", said Hou Xiyun, a professor at Nanjing University's school of astronomy and space science.

The communist country is working on an intensive program of lunar exploration, with Chang'e 3 landing on the moon in 2013 as the first craft since a Soviet device in 1976.

The United States is the only country to have landed humans on the moon, and Trump said in 2017 he wanted to return astronauts to the lunar surface to build a foundation for an eventual Mars mission.

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The photo of the rover was sent via the Queqiao (Magpie Bridge) satellite, which was blasted into the moon's orbit in May to relay data and commands between the lander and Earth.

Since the earliest days of lunar exploration, communication back to Earth was always the challenge on the far side of the moon.

Chang'e 4, a combined lander and rover, will make astronomical observations and probe the composition of the soil. Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, and Saudi Arabia contributed payloads that will measure radiation and use low-frequency radio astronomy to listen for faint signals lingering in the cosmos since the formation of the universe's first stars, among other things.

The far side of the moon just had its first man-made visitor.

China conducted its first crewed space mission in 2003, becoming only the third country to do so after Russian Federation and the United States. However, moon missions waned after the Soviet Union collapsed and NASA directed funds toward global space stations and exploration of the rest of the solar system. Its space program suffered a rare setback past year with the failed launch of its Long March 5 rocket.

According to official Chinese government sponsored news media the China National Space Administration (CNSA) landed the robotic lunar lander in the unexplored South Pole-Aitken basin, the largest, deepest, crater on the lunar surface.

After receiving the order, Yutu-2, atop the probe, extended its solar panel, stretched out its mast and started to drive slowly to the transfer mechanism, according to the Beijing Aerospace Control Center.



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