China launches pioneering mission to far side of moon

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The mission's launch date is not yet certain but according to rumors, it is scheduled to leave the earth on December 8.

The sun reflecting off the side of the moon.

On Friday (~18:30 UTC/14:30 ET/02:30 local Saturday) Chang'e-4 will be launched to make the 1st attempt at a landing on the far side of the Moon. That is why the relay satellite named Queqiao will be responsible for transmitting signals between the Earth station, and the Chang'e-4 lander and rover.

The biggest technical challenge of the Mission, the communication with the control center, according to Ouyang Ziyuan.

There's been no official word on when landing on the moon will take place, but Jones reports it could be january 3. The Chang'e 4 rover is 1.5 meters (5 feet) long and about 1 meter (3.3 feet) wide and tall, with two foldable solar panels and six wheels. It will carry a robotic lander and rover to the moon's unexplored South Pole-Aitken basin, the largest and deepest impact crater in the solar system. The rover will measure the subsurface layer leveraging its ground-penetrating radar.

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This gear will allow Chang'e 4 to characterize its surroundings in great detail. The information gathered from the exploration is expected to help geologists understand how the Moon evolved. For example, huge, dark basaltic plains called maria cover much of the near side but nearly none of the far side.

The mission will also characterise the "radio environment" on the far side, a test created to lay the groundwork for the creation of future radio astronomy telescopes on the far side, which is shielded from the radio noise of Earth. It will also reportedly experiment on low-gravity plant growth. Upon arrival at our rocky satellite, an accompanying lander, which doubles as a rover, will descend towards the surface. Moreover, the craters on the surface of the moon were thought to have been created during a period called Late Heavy Bombardment when a huge number of asteroids impacted the inner planets.

China also plans to land on and explore the southern and northern polar regions of the moon by 2030 and set up a lunar scientific research station, an official from the China National Space Administration told the China Daily. China's space agency aims to solve this using a relay satellite that was launched earlier this year and now sits ready to act as a cosmic operator connecting Earth and the far side via its perch at the second Lagrange point beyond the moon's orbit.

If Chang'e 4 is successful, Maciel said that it could open a new avenue of astronomy in the years to come.

And then there's the crewed side of things. The first and second Chang'e missions were created to gather data from orbit, while the third and fourth were built for surface operations.

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