For the first time in history, China successfully landed a spacecraft on the dark side of the Moon, the Chinese National Space Administration (CNSA) said Thursday. The probe called Chang’e 4 launched from southwest China in early December and landed on Wednesday at 10:26 AM (Beijing time) in the Von Karman crater within the South Pole’s Aitken lunar basin, the largest known impact crater in the solar system. Shortly after landing, the spacecraft sent the first photo of the Moon’s dark side.
The landing “marked a new chapter in the lunar and space exploration of the human race,” CNSA said in a statement. “The other side of the Moon is a rare and quiet place, which is free from interference from Earth’s radio signals,” said mission spokesman Yu Guobin. “This probe can fill the vacuum of low-frequency observation in radio astronomy and will provide important information to study the origin of stars and the evolution of the nebula,” he added.
Although China, the United States, and Russia have already operated robotic spacecraft on the Moon, Chang’e 4 is the first to land smoothly on the dark side of the Moon since 1976.
China Landed The Chang’e 4 Lunar Rover On The Dark Side of The Moon
The geology on the dark side of the Moon is distinctive, with more craters and less evidence of volcanic activity. But it is difficult to explore because scientists on Earth cannot communicate through a direct radio signal with a spacecraft in this remote region, a challenge that China tackled by launching a communication satellite in the Moon’s vicinity to allow Chang’e 4 to send data back home in real time.
The landing of Chang’e 4 on the dark side of the Moon demonstrated China’s ambitions to become a space and scientific power in an era in which NASA funding has generally been reduced. In this regard, China spent more on scientific research than any other nation and launched more rockets than any other country in 2018.
In December, China announced that it was starting a global service for BeiDou, a proprietary satellite navigation system designed to compete with the global positioning system ahead of schedule. Besides, the Chang’e 4 mission will be soon followed by Chang’e 5 space probe which will also aim for lunar exploration.