China, on Saturday morning, launched a Rocket to land on the hidden side of the moon, a world first that would increase Beijing’s ambitions to become a space superpower.
The mission of the Chang’e-4 lunar probe, named after the moon goddess in Chinese mythology, was launched on a Long March 3B rocket from the southwest launch center of Xichang at 2:23 a.m.(6: 23 pm GMT) According to the official Xinhua news agency.
The takeoff marked the start of a long journey to the back of the moon for the Chang’e-4 mission, which is expected to land in the New Year to conduct experiments and explore the terrain.
“Chang’e-4 is humanity’s first rover to land and explore the dark side of the moon,” said He Rongwei, head of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp space subcontractor.
“This mission is also the world’s most important deep space exploration research project in 2018,” the Global Times described.
Unlike the side of the moon, which is “blocked by the tides” and still faces the earth and has many flat areas to land, the far side is mountainous and steep.
It was not until 1959 that the Soviet Union captured the first images of the surface of the great crater, revealing part of the mystery of the “dark side” of the moon.
No rover has touched the surface, which makes China the first nation to explore the region.
“In the last 10 or 20 years, China has systematically echoed the many firsts of Soviet and American space exploration in the 1960s and 1970s,” said Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Astrophysical Center.
“This is one of the first times they do something that nobody else has done before.”
Movement of Human Feet on Moon Soon
This is not an easy task, China has been preparing for this moment for years.
An important challenge for such a mission is to have world-class communicate with the rover: as the hidden face of the moon still points out of the Earth, there is no direct “line of sight” for the signals.
In May, China projected the Queqiao satellite (“Magpie Bridge“) into the orbit of the Moon, positioning it so that it can transmit data and commands between the landing and the Earth.
In addition to the difficulties, Chang’e-4 is being sent to the Aitken basin, in the lunar region of the South Pole, known for its rugged and complex terrain, according to media reports.
The probe carries 6 experiences from China and 4 from abroad.
They include low-frequency radio astronomy studies, designed to take advantage of the lack of far-end interference, as well as mineral and radiation testing, the agency of the National Space Administration of China told Xinhua.
The experiments also involve the planting of potatoes and other seeds, according to Chinese media.
Beijing is investing billions in its military space program, hoping to have a space station with a crew by 2022 and finally, send humans to the Moon.
The Chang’e 4 mission is a step in this direction, an important asset for the engineering expertise needed to explore and install the moon, said McDowell.
Once on the surface of the moon, the rover faces a series of extreme challenges.
During the lunar night, which lasts 14 Earth days, temperatures will drop to minus 173 degrees Celsius (minus 279 degrees Fahrenheit). During the lunar day, which also lasts 14 days on land, temperatures rise to 127 ° C (261 ° F).
Rover instruments must withstand these fluctuations and generate enough energy to sustain them during the long night.
Yutu overcame these difficulties and, after the first failures, finally studied the surface of the moon for 31 months. Its success has given a great boost to China’s space program.
Beijing plans to send another lunar lander, Chang’e-5, next year to collect samples and bring them back to Earth.