China launches pioneer on Chang & 4; mission to the dark side of the moon



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Updated

December 8, 2018 17:41:08

China has launched an innovative mission to land a spacecraft on the most unexplored side of the moon, demonstrating its growing ambitions as a space power to rival Russia, the European Union and the United States.

Key points

  • The Chang & # 39; and 4 is a combination of lander-rover that will explore above and below the lunar surface
  • It is expected to make a 27-day journey to the Von Karman crater in the South Pole-Aitken basin.
  • China intends to send the Chang & 5; and 5 spacecraft to the Moon next year

A Long March 3B rocket carrying a lunar probe left the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China's Sichuan province, Xinhua news agency reported.

The opposite side of the Moon is also known as the dark side because it is turned away from Earth and remains relatively unknown. It has a different composition of sites on the closest side, where previous missions have landed.

If successful, the Chang & # 39; 4 mission would boost the Chinese space program to a leading position in one of the most important areas of lunar exploration.

China landed its Yutu or Jade Rabbit rover on the moon five years ago and plans to ship its Chang & 5 39 and 5 probe for next year and have it back to Earth with samples – the first time this will be done since 1976.

A manned lunar mission is also being considered.

Chang and 4 is a combination of lander-rover and will explore both above and below the lunar surface after reaching the Von Karman crater of the South Pole-Aitken basin after a 27-day journey.

He will also conduct radio astronomical studies which, because the distant side always facing away from Earth, will be "free from interference from our planet's ionosphere, man-made radio frequencies and auroral radiation noise," space industry expert Leonard David wrote. site Space.com.

Moon missions Chang & e

  • Chang & # 39; and 1: China's first lunar mission, launched in 2007. It orbited the Moon and created a topographic map of the surface
  • Chang & # 39; and 2: A second mission in orbit in 2011 to explore future landing sites and take high resolution photos
  • Chang & # 39; e 3: First unmanned Lunar landing of the Chang'e effort. The lander with Jade Rabbit landed in 2013, making it the first soft landing on the Moon since 1976. Despite some technical problems, the rover ran until 2016 when it was officially declared dead.
  • Chang and 4: China's current mission to explore and research the other side of the moon
  • Chang & # 39; and 5: Future mission planned for 2019 to collect and return stones and lunar soil

It can also transport plant seeds and silkworm eggs, according to Xinhua.

Chang is the moon goddess in Chinese mythology.

China held its first manned space mission in 2003, becoming only the third country after Russia and the US did so.

It has placed a pair of space stations in orbit, one of which is still operating as a precursor to a station of more than 54.43 tons that is due to come on stream in 2022.

The launch of a Mars rover is scheduled for mid 2020.

To facilitate communication between the controllers on Earth and the Chang & # 39; and 4 mission, China launched a retransmission satellite earlier this year called Queqiao, or "Magpie Bridge" after an old Chinese folk tale.

China's space program has benefited from cooperation with Russia and European countries, although it has been excluded from the 381-ton International Space Station, mainly because of US legislation that prevents such cooperation amid concerns about its strong military connections.

China's program also suffered a rare setback last year with the failed launch of its Long March 5 rocket.

AP

Topics:

Science and technology,

the moon,

spaceship

space exploration,

astronomy-space,

China

First published

December 8, 2018 12:17:53

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