Relay satellite Queqiao plays key role in exploring moon's far side

Relay satellite Queqiao plays key role in exploring moon's far side

Relay satellite Queqiao plays key role in exploring moon's far side

China's Chang'e 4 probe has started the exploration on the far side of the moon thanks to the relay satellite that provides a communication link with ground control.

A camera is also housed inside the (presumably very expensive) "lunar mini biosphere" experiment, so that scientists on earth can monitor the plants to see whether they perform photosynthesis, sprout, grow and bloom while Chang'e-4 explores the moon's far side.

After all, one can not see the far side of the Moon and thus having a lander descend safely on that portion is hard. The worldwide payloads involved in the Chang'e-4 mission are- LND, ASAN, NCLE and a small camera. A relay satellite named Queqiao was launched before to facilitate communications.

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In the coming months, the lander-rover will conduct scientific observations across the less-understood side of the moon.

Having barely landed on the lunar surface, Chang'e-4 transmitted its first images. In recent years, China has indicated that it may be working with the European Space Agency to create this outpost, which the ESA has described as an "international Moon village" that will be the spiritual successor to the ISS. The Von Kármán crater measures 186km in diameter and is located within 2,500km-wide South Pole-Aitken basin. The moon's dark side remains largely unexplored because its position shields it from radio frequencies, preventing direct with the Earth.

The exploration probe landed on the far side of the moon last week in a historic first, bringing with it a 3-kilogram metal canister containing potato and rockcress seeds, as well as silkworm eggs, according to LiveScience. "This will negate the key advantage of the far side for radio astronomy, being free of radio interference from Earth".

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Harvard University astronomer Avi Loeb noted, however, that the relay satellite needed to send back information from the far side also contaminates the sky.

China is a relative newcomer to space travel compared to the USA and Russian Federation, but has been making up for lost time at a rapid rate.

The Yutu-2 rover follows on from the successful Indian Chandrayann-1 mission, which was among the first spacecraft to show evidence of water on the moon after mapping the surface between 2008 and 2009.

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