Published: Sun, January 06, 2019
Science | By

China's Chang'e-4 touching down on far side of the moon

China's Chang'e-4 touching down on far side of the moon

China's lunar rover has left the first-ever "footprint" on the far side of the moon, officials said Friday, hours after the robotic spacecraft successfully soft-landed on the mysterious and previously unexplored region of the Earth's satellite.

"Building a space power is a dream that we persistently pursue", said Wu Weiren, the chief designer of the China Lunar Exploration Project, speaking with CCTV at the Beijing Aerospace Flight and Control Center.

Chang'e-4 includes two main parts: the main lander weighing about 1,088 pounds and a 136-kilogramme rover.

"I think this is very good evidence that we are now able to compete with the Americans", said energy company employee Yao Dajun.

Previous photos shared by China's National Space Administration show the first-ever close-ups of the far side of the moon's cratered surface. CNSA says the probe, named Chang'e-4, touched down at 10:26 a.m. Beijing Time on Thursday.

Another instrument on board the spacecraft known as the Advanced Small Analyzer for Neutrals (ASAN), will measure how solar wind - a flow of charged particles from the sun - interacts with the lunar surface. When it was 2 meters above the surface, the engine stopped, and the spacecraft landed with four legs cushioning against the shock.

The next phase of China's lunar exploration will kick off in late 2019 with the launch of Chang'e 5.

NEW images of the far side of the Moon captured by the landing camera on China's Chang'e-4 lunar probe have been released on Thursday, as the probe made a successful touchdown on the lunar surface.

It is also notable that China's state news service provided no live coverage of Monday night's landing attempt.

In 2013, Chang'e 3, the predecessor craft to the current mission, made the first moon landing since the former Soviet Union's Luna 24 in 1976. Because the moon circles the earth every 27.3 days in a synchronous rotation the side of the moon where Chang'e 4 landed remains facing away from earth.

The US is the only other country that has carried out moon landings.

The mission will also conduct the first astronomy observations from the moon's far side, which is seen as a uniquely attractive site for monitoring radio waves coming from deep space.

"The far side of the moon is a rare quiet place that is free from interference of radio signals from Earth", mission spokesman Yu Guobin said, according to Xinhua.

The probe, containing a lander and a rover, was launched on a Long March 3B rocket from Xichang in the south of the country on 8 December.

This landing marks an important step in space for China. China builds already now an exclusive competition event to the worldwide space station, is mainly due to the Americans, who had rejected a few years ago a participation of China.

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