Other Side Of The Moon: China Becomes First Country To Land On 'Dark' Side Of The Lunar Body
Chinese lunar probe, Chang’e-4 touched down on far-side of the moon on January 3, announced China’s space agency- the China National Space Administration, reported Reuters. The probe launched in December is the first ever to land on the moon and the landing “opened a new chapter in human lunar exploration”, the state news agency said.
The probe has a lander and a rover and landed at a preselected landing area near the moon’s South Pole in the Von Karman Crater. The probe, which entered moon’s orbit in mid-December, transmitted the first-ever “close range” image of the far side of the moon.
The moon is ‘tidally locked’ to Earth which means that it rotates at the same rate as it orbits Earth and hence most of the far side is never visible to us. Previous spacecraft have seen the far side, but this is the first successful landing.
Tasks of the probe
The tasks of the probe include astronomical observation, a survey of the moon’s terrain, landform and mineral makeup, measuring the neutron radiation and neutral atoms to study environment of its far side. The probe also took six live species-cotton, rapeseed, potato, Arabidopsis, fruit fly and yeast to form a mini biosphere in the lifeless environment.
The probe is a major step for China’s ambition to become a major space power. China wants to catch up with Russia and the United States in space exploration. The US is the only country to have landed humans on the moon and Russia sent a successful lunar probe, Luna 24 in 1976.
While China has repeatedly insisted that its ambitions are peaceful but the US has accused it of trying to prevent other countries from using space-based assets during a crisis.