China is about to be the first nation to land on the dark side of the moon. But Beijing is being extraordinarily reserved about the event – without even confirming its supposed release date this weekend.
The National Space Administration of China is believed to be attacking the robotic probe at Von Karaman Crater, near the south pole of the Moon. It is considered to be the oldest impact crater in the entire Solar System, making it an ideal collecting site for the ice of water and a rare isotope of hydrogen carried by the solar wind.
Both have the potential to potentiate future interplanetary missions.
Mining on the Moon
The lander, dubbed Chang & # 39; e-4 (Moon Goddess 4), will land inside the crater to examine its contents. He will also have experienced the growth of low-gravity plants.
For the mission to be possible, a communications satellite was launched earlier this year – in May – to broadcast its signals back to Earth. Part of the Chang-e-4's mission is to use the masking effect of the Moon's volume to block out "radio noise" and listen to interstellar signals. He will test the clarity of the telescope's optics when it is out of range of the earth's ionosphere.
If launched this weekend, Chang & e4 will likely land on the surface of the Moon on December 31.
China has focused its space efforts on the Moon since its space program began in 2004. Two probes were placed in lunar orbit, Chang's e-1 and 2. The lunar module Chang's e-3 was the first since 1976.
Chang-e-4 is a precursor to another mission, Chang-e-5, which is due to be launched next year. It is designed to collect a sample of regolith (the dusty surface of the Moon) and return it to Earth for analysis.
Moon of Destiny
Originally posted as China to land on the dark side of the moon