China becomes first to land on the dark side of the moon

China becomes first to land on the dark side of the moon

China becomes first to land on the dark side of the moon

Months back, China launched relay satellites that help the lander and rover to remain in contact with its handlers on Earth despite not being in direct line-of-sight. In contrast to other unmanned lunar expeditions by the U.S., Russia, the European Space Agency and India, the Chinese Chang'e 4 was a controlled landing on the far side of the moon.

China's Chang'e 4 craft on Thursday became the first to successfully land on the far side.

The mission of Chang'e-4 was launched into space aboard the rocket "long March 3B" 8 December.

Chang'e-4 is an un-crewed vehicle that includes a lander and a rover.

China's mission is to learn more about the little-understood region of the moon and compete with the United States and Russian Federation as a powerhouse of space exploration.

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One of several lunar experiments as photographed from Chang'e-4. Located over on the far side, it's 1,150 miles (2,500 kilometers) in width and covers nearly one quarter of Earth's natural satellite.

The far side is popularly called the "dark side" because it can't be seen from Earth and is relatively unknown, not because it lacks sunlight.

The Chang'e 4 mission is a coup for China's ambitious lunar and space exploration programs. As it hovered about 100m above the lunar surface, detectors looked for obstacles before settling on a flat area - the Von Karman crater in the South Pole-Aitken Basin on the back of the Moon.

Chang'e 4 had touched down on the surface at 10:26 a.m., the China National Space Administration said. That's when space rocks were careening off each other and crashing into moons and planets, including Earth.

No lander or rover has ever previously touched the surface of the far side of the moon, and it is no easy technological feat.

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The Queqiao satellite is deployed about 455,000 kilometers from Earth, where it will relay communications between ground controllers and the Chang'e-4.

Lunar project chief designer Wu Weiren called the separation of the rover "a small step for the rover, but one giant leap for the Chinese nation".

Landing a probe on the far side of the moon is indeed a triumph for the China National Space Administration.

This southern hemisphere of the Moon features a more rugged terrain which makes landing harder.

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