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China Makes Historic Landing on 'Dark Side' of the Moon

China Makes Historic Landing on 'Dark Side' of the Moon


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Just before 10:30 am Beijing local time on January 3, the robotic spacecraft Chang’e 4 made a soft landing in the South Pole-Aitken Basin area of the moon, otherwise known as the “far side” or “dark side” of Earth’s only natural satellite.

It is the first spacecraft in history to attempt or achieve a landing on this unexplored area, which is never visible from Earth.

After keeping the details of the mission under wraps until the last minute, China announced the successful landing, and shared the first lunar images captured by the unmanned space probe via state media. As no direct communication link exists, the images had to be bounced off another satellite before being relayed back to Earth, BBC News reported.

The moon has been the object of human fascination—and scientific observation—for centuries. Although from our perspective it does not appear to spin, in reality the moon rotates about every 27 days, which is about the same amount of time it takes to orbit the Earth once. During this whole process, we can see only about 59 percent of the moon’s surface, while the other 41 percent—known as the “dark side” of the moon—is concealed from our view.

Soon after the Soviet satellite Sputnik became the first spacecraft to orbit Earth in 1957, both the Soviet and U.S. space programs began focusing on the next great objective: the moon. The Soviet Union initially had more success, as its first two Luna probes made the first escape from Earth’s gravity and the first lunar impact in 1959. That same year, Luna 3 achieved another first, taking a photographic survey of the moon’s far side. Despite their grainy quality, these early images revealed that the previously unseen hemisphere had few of the smooth, dark spots that we observe on the moon’s surface. Scientists initially mistook these volcanic plains for lunar seas, and called them maria (from the Latin word for sea).

Since then, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has collected tens of thousands of images of the far side of the moon, which has allowed them to make better predictions about what that distant surface might look like.

But in 2016, China’s growing space program announced its plans to make a historic landing on the far side of the moon. Since 2003, when the country launched its first astronaut, the multibillion-dollar space program run by the Chinese military has been right on schedule with achieving the landmarks it set for itself.

In late 2013, the unmanned spacecraft Chang’e 3 made a soft landing on the lunar surface, making China the third nation (after the United States and the former USSR) to reach the moon. The rover Yutu or “Jade Rabbit,” which deployed from Chang’e 3 after the landing, discovered a new type of basaltic rock during its exploration of a volcanic crater in the Mare Imbrium (what we see as the right “eye” of the “Man in the Moon”).

Despite such advances in lunar knowledge, the Chinese space program began by repeating feats that its U.S. and Soviet counterparts achieved decades ago. But the Chang’e 4 mission to make a soft landing on the far side of the moon represents a first in the history of space exploration.

As Liu Jizhong, dean of China’s Lunar Exploration & Aerospace Engineering Center, told Agence France-Presse at the time: “The implementation of the Chang’e 4 mission has helped our country make the leap from following to leading.”

Launched on December 7, 2018, the Chang’e 4 arrived in lunar orbit five days later, and began lowering itself toward the moon. After its successful landing, it will explore the so-called Von Kármán crater within the vast South Pole-Aitken Basin. The basin itself is the largest known impact crater on the moon, and one of the largest in the entire solar system. The distance from its depths to the tops of the highest surrounding peaks measures some 15 km (or eight miles), almost twice the height of Mount Everest.

In addition to taking pictures and soil samples, the space probe is also set to plant a mini-garden on the moon. According to Chinese state news agency Xinhua, it is carrying six live species from Earth, including cotton, potato, rapeseed, yeast and a flowering plant called arabidopsis, which may produce the first flower to grow on the Moon.


Watch China Land on the Moon's Far Side in This Awesome Video!

A spectacular new video gives a lander's-eye view of the first-ever touchdown on the moon's mysterious far side.

The nearly 3-minute video was captured by China's Chang'e 4 mission, which landed inside the 115-mile-wide (185 kilometers) Von Kármán Crater on the night of Jan. 2.

The black-and-white footage begins with a nice view of the battered lunar landscape set against the blackness of space. About 1 minute in, the camera pivots downward. Dozens of small craters on Von Kármán's floor come into sharper view as the spacecraft makes its way toward the surface. [Photos from the Moon's Far Side! China's Chang'e 4 Lunar Landing in Pictures]

Then, Chang'e 4 pauses its descent briefly, probably sussing out the safest place to touch down. Satisfied, the spacecraft heads groundward again. We see a flurry of dust kicked up by Chang'e 4's descent engines, and then it's all over — the historic landing is in the books.

Chang'e 4 consists of a stationary lander and a six-wheeled rover, which the mission team has named Yutu 2. (The original Yutu was the rover on the Chang'e 3 mission, which landed on the moon's near side in December 2013.)

The Chang'e 4 lander and rover carry eight scientific instruments between them, which the spacecraft are using to characterize the surface and near subsurface of Von Kármán's floor. The mission's observations should shed light on the structure and evolutionary history of the moon, Chinese space officials have said.

Such data could also help scientists understand why the far side, which always faces away from Earth, is so different than the near side. For example, dark volcanic deposits called maria cover much of the near side's surface but very little of the far side.

The mission's data come to Earth via a relay satellite called Queqiao, which China launched to a gravitationally stable spot beyond the moon in May 2018. (Direct communication with surface craft on the far side is impossible, because signals would have to travel through the moon.)

Chang'e 4 also carries a biological experiment: a small tin containing silkworm eggs and plant seeds. The goal is to document how these organisms grow and develop in the low-gravity lunar environment.

China has launched a series of increasingly ambitious missions under its Chang'e 4 program of robotic lunar exploration, which takes its name from a moon goddess in Chinese mythology. (Yutu is this goddess's pet rabbit, by the way.) The Chang'e 1 and Chang'e 2 orbiters lifted off in 2007 and 2010, and Chang'e 3 made its successful touchdown in December 2013.

In October 2014, the Chang'e 5T1 mission launched a prototype return capsule on an eight-day trip around the moon. This project tested out gear that will be used in the Chang'e 5 sample-return mission, which could launch as early as this year, Chinese space officials have said.


China Makes History With Chang'e-4 Probe by Landing on Far Side of the Moon

China has landed a spacecraft on the far side of the moon in a world first, according to state-run media. The uncrewed Chang'e-4 lander and rover successfully arrived in the Von Karman crater, which is within the South Pole-Aitken Basin, at 10:26 a.m. Beijing time on Thursday, according to Chinese broadcaster CGTN.

After it touched down, the spacecraft took the first photo of what is widely known as the "dark side" of the moon, and sent it back to Earth via the Queqiao (Magpie Bridge) satellite. The satellite, which launched last May, is orbiting the second Lagrangian point of the Earth-moon system.

#China's Chang'e-4 probe sends back world's first close shot of moon's far side after historic soft landing on uncharted area https://t.co/OckokVjnh8 pic.twitter.com/ReORkkPcq3

&mdash CGTN (@CGTNOfficial) January 3, 2019

Now that it has landed, the Chang'e-4 is tasked with collecting data on the far side of the moon, including on the structure of its surface and its mantle, as well as its minerals, according to CGTN. It will also carry out low-frequency astronomical observations because it is shielded from radio interference.

"So far what we know about the far side of the moon is from orbiters only, from Russia, the U.S., Europe, China and India," Andrew Coates, Professor of Physics at University College London, U.K., told Newsweek.

The Aitken Basin where Chang'e-4 is located is around 4.2 billion years old, and measures 2,500 kilometers in diameter and sits 13 kilometers deep. That makes it one of the largest and oldest impact basins in the Solar System, Dr. Mahesh Anand, reader in Planetary Science and Exploration at The Open University, U.K., told Newsweek.

The basin could have breached the lunar crust, exposing the mantle below, he explained. "This could be our only direct view of the lunar interior&mdashimportant for understanding the chemical and thermal evolution of the Moon."

The China National Space Administration agency launched Chang'e-4 in December from its center in Xichang, southwest China. Landing the vessel, named after Chang'e, the goddess of the moon in Chinese mythology, was no easy feat. While the near side of the moon is dotted with flat areas that spacecraft can land on with relative ease, the far side is covered in craters. Some of its mountains are higher than Mount Everest, Earth's highest mountain above sea level, Anand said.

In addition, this part of the moon is not visible from Earth due to a phenomenon known as tidal locking. This occurs because it takes the moon 28 days to orbit Earth, and 28 days to spin once on its axis, meaning the same side always faces our planet. As it is not possible to shoot signals to the far side of the moon, China launched the Queqiao satellite so it could provide a point of contact for Chang'e-4.

On top of that, Chinese scientists had to create a rover that could work in extreme temperatures. At the height of day, temperatures can hit around 260 degrees Fahrenheit, but plummet to around -280 Fahrenheit at night.

David Rothery, professor of planetary geosciences at the Open University, U.K., highlighted in a piece for The Conversation that only the U.S. and Soviet Union had landed spacecraft on the moon, in missions steered by humans or that "relied on luck for a safe landing."

"Chang'e-4 used a downward-looking camera and hazard avoidance software to steer itself to a flat and sufficiently boulder-free landing spot as it slowed its descent using retrorockets&mdashan impressive technological feat," he wrote.

However, Rothery told Newsweek: "I'm not expecting a lot of important science from this landing. For example, the chemical and mineralogicalanalyses of the rocks will be pretty basic. It's a stepping stone to Chinese sample return missions and crewed landings."

Anand, meanwhile, was optimistic about how Chang'e-4 will contribute to our wider understanding of this area of research. "It will not be surprising if the future exploration of the lunar farside, heralded by the Chang'e-4 landing, could necessitate a paradigm shift in our understanding of planetary formation in our Solar System and potentially other exoplanetary systems as well," he said.

Coates argued the launch of the rover "illustrates China's commitment to space exploration."

The project is the latest chapter in Beijing's billion-dollar space program. It comes after the launch of the Yutu (Jade Rabbit) rover in 2013 as part of the Chang'e-3 lander mission. It spent 31 months exploring the moon, and discovered evidence of ancient lava plains beneath the satellite's crust, New Scientist reported.

China also has ambitions to have a crewed space station by 2022. Yang Liwei, deputy director of China's Manned Space Agency, said in March 2018 that the separate parts of the T-shaped station would be launched and assembled in orbit, according to SpaceTechAsia.

This article has been updated with background information and comment from David Rothery, Mahesh Anand and Andrew Coates.


What the Hell Is China Doing on the Dark Side of the Moon?

Despite Trump’s ambitions to put man back on the moon, experts believe that Beijing might be preparing to make a giant leap of its own.

David Axe

CNSA / CLEP

One year ago last month, a Chinese robot touched down on the dark side of the moon.

It was the first probe to land on the side of the moon that permanently faces away from Earth as both bodies circle around the sun. And if Beijing realizes its ambitions in coming years, it won’t be the last time it makes history—and threatens U.S. dominance in space.

The Chang’e 4 probe and the Yutu 2 rover it carried have stayed busy photographing and scanning minerals, cultivating cotton, potato and rapeseeds, growing yeast, and hatching fruit-fly eggs in the moon’s low gravity.

The experiments are intriguing in their own right, but China’s real agenda is more than scientific. For decades, Beijing has been building the infrastructure for an eventual manned mission to the moon, effectively duplicating what the United States achieved in 1969 and hopes to achieve again before 2024.

The reasons for this latter-day space race are clear, experts said, even if the real-world pay-off isn’t.

“Space has always been symbolic of leadership, through prestige, that translates into strategic influence,” Joan Johnson-Freese, a space expert at the Naval War College in Rhode Island, told The Daily Beast. “China seeks to be acknowledged as the technology leader in Asia, and there is no more visible place to do that than space.”

While the current, high-profile U.S. moon mission is mired in Trump-era politics, China’s keeps plodding forward with fewer bold pronouncements and more actual accomplishments.

As Chang’e 4 and Yutu 2 work away, the China National Space Administration is quietly planning a follow-up probe. Chang’e 5 could blast off this year. Unlike the one-way Chang’e 4, which is limited to bouncing back data via a relay satellite, its successor is designed to collect samples and bring them back to Earth.

Meanwhile, the Chinese space agency has resumed work on its Tiangong 3 space station and is also testing a new manned capsule for deep-space missions.

When the 22-year-old, U.S.-led International Space Station finally craps out some time in the late 2020s or early 2030s, Tiangong could become the only permanent habitat in low Earth orbit. If the United States wants to maintain a significant human presence over Earth after the ISS, it might have no choice but to ask China for permission to embark.

That would make Tiangong the “de facto international space station,” Johnson-Freese argued. Neither NASA nor the Chinese space agency responded to requests for comment.

“China is in a no-lose situation,” Johnson-Freese added via email. “It can ‘beat’ the U.S. (back) to the Moon—or not—but soon thereafter be able to say anything the U.S. can do, we can do, too.”

To be clear, the United States isn’t standing still in space. NASA still leads the International Space Station and in recent years convinced Congress to keep the station in service as long as its basic components were safe and economical.

The U.S. space agency is also deploying a new space telescope and sending probes across the solar system as part of an ever-expanding search for extraterrestrial life.

And then there’s the moon. NASA for years has mulled returning human explorers to the lunar surface for the first time since 1972. Not only is there plenty of science to be done, but the moon could also function as a staging base for astronauts heading to Mars. To say nothing of the commercial value of the moon’s minerals.

Last year, the Trump administration slapped an arbitrary 2024 deadline on a new manned lunar landing. That year, of course, represents the close of a possible second term for Trump. Experts actually tend to agree 2024 is possible, but only if Congress coughs up $30 billion—and if there are zero problems developing all the hardware a moon landing requires. Tools like a new heavy rocket, a manned capsule, and a lander.

Rather than flying astronauts directly to the moon, NASA wants to build a lunar space station that could support both moon landings and future Mars missions. That complicates an American return to the moon and underscores the difference between the U.S. and Chinese approaches to space exploration.

“What China has that the U.S. has not, is long-term program-sustainability,” Johnson-Freese said. “The U.S. human exploration program has been operating in fits and starts because each new administration wants to put its stamp on whatever exploration program is announced, with a timetable, but often missing the necessary budget to make it actually feasible.”

Trump’s Moon shot has already shown signs of falling apart. Developing the manned lander was always the riskiest part, according to John Logsdon, a professor emeritus of political science and international affairs at George Washington University and a former NASA adviser. NASA hasn’t built one in nearly half a century.

Wary of throwing good money after bad, Congress approved only half of the billion dollars NASA wanted for the mission in 2020. “Our appetite doesn’t match our allocations,” Logsdon told The Daily Beast.

China’s more deliberate journey into space could be an attractive model for other, smaller space-faring countries. For decades, the United States has been the world leader in space, organizing other nations—including rivals like Russia—to explore the galaxy for the benefit of all humankind.

That could change as the competing moon missions—and the geopolitical fault lines they reflect—come into clearer focus.

“As U.S. leadership continues to erode under President Trump, other nations, especially Japan and the E.U., may begin to consider acting more independently and join China in more substantial cooperative space projects,” Gregory Kulacki, a space expert with the Massachusetts-based Union of Concerned Scientists, told The Daily Beast.

It could be decades before the end-game is clear, Christopher Impey, a University of Arizona astronomer, told The Daily Beast. “If you take the long view, which the Chinese always do, in 50 to 100 years we will be living in the solar system and there will be a substantial economic activity off-Earth,” he said.

“They want to be first,” Impey added of the Chinese, “and they want to be in the driver’s seat for that future.”


China's Chang'e-4 makes historic landing on Moon's far side

Thursday, January 3, 2019, 4:58 PM - For the first time in human history, we have a close-up look of what it's like on the far side of the Moon, after China's Chang'e-4 lunar lander, and its Yutu-2 rover, touched down there, early Thursday morning.

It's hard to believe it's been nearly 60 years since humans were treated to our first glance at the far side of the Moon.

Back in 1959, it was the Soviet Luna 3 probe that took that first snapshot and beamed it back to Earth. Roughly 10 years later, it was American astronauts putting the first boot prints on the Moon's dusty surface. Now, in 2019, China's space program has scored its own piece of lunar history, as it becomes the very first nation to land a robotic mission on the far side of the Moon.

Jia Yang, deputy chief designer of the Chang'e-4 probe, from the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST), called the milestone "a perfect display of human intelligence."


An image of the far side of the Moon, shot by China's Chang'e-4 lander upon touchdown, Thursday morning. On the left is the edge of the lander's body, while to the right part of the lander's leg, as well as its foot pad, which has partially sunk into the lunar regolith. Credit: CNSA/CLEP


The first colour photograph returned from the surface of the far side of the Moon. Chang'e-4's rover deployment camera took the image, which shows a nearby dust-filled crater, and the rover deployment ramps at the top. Credit: CNSA/CLEP

Why is this landing so significant?

The Apollo 8 astronauts demonstrated the problem with the far side of the Moon quite well as they made three orbits around before setting off on the return trip to Earth. Each time their spacecraft slipped beyond the limb of the Moon, they were plunged into radio silence from Earth.

This becomes especially problematic for anything that stays on the far side of the Moon, which includes anything you set down on the surface there. This is due to the Moon being 'tidally-locked' to Earth, meaning that, because of its gravitational attraction to Earth, the time it takes for the Moon to rotate once on its axis exactly matches the time it takes to make one orbit around the Earth. Thus, the Moon always presents the same side of its face to us, and the other side of the Moon cannot be seen from Earth.

So, without a dedicated satellite placed in the right position out in space, any robot that set down on the mysterious far side would be completely out of contact with its controllers on Earth. Even if the robot was able to conduct all of its operations and experiments perfectly, on its own, there would be no way for it to transmit what it finds back home. Its fate would be a complete mystery to us without some kind of support.

Thus, given the resources required to not only put a lander or rover down on the surface, but also to put a spacecraft far enough out to act as a communications relay, it turns the mission into something far more expensive than setting something down on the near side, or putting an orbiter around the Moon.

Watch below as NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter presents us with a full view of the near side and far side of the Moon.

China launched their new mission in two parts, to solve this problem.

They sent their new Queqiao satellite into space back in May, placing it into a circular 'halo' orbit around Lagrange Point 2 in mid-June. Situated about 1.5 million km away, beyond the Moon's orbit, and on the far side of Earth from the Sun, this provides Queqiao with an excellent vantage point to act as a communications relay from the far side of the Moon back to Earth.

With this crucial piece in place, China then launched Chang'e-4, atop a Long March 3B rocket, on December 8, 2018, for its targeted touchdown on the Moon's far side, in the new year.

The lander touched down in Von Kármán crater, in the Moon's southern hemisphere, at 11:26 p.m. ET, Jan 2, 2019 (10:26 a.m. Beijing time, Jan 3).

Von Kármán is a 160 km wide impact crater, nestled in a larger, 2,500-km-wide crater known as the South Pole–Aitken basin. This immense feature is the site of an ancient massive impact event, and although it has been imaged extensively from orbit, this is the first time it can be studied in detail from the surface.

Chang'e-4 is carrying the Yutu-2 rover, which it deployed shortly after landing, at 7:22 a.m. ET, Jan 3, 2019 (6:22 p.m. Beijing time).


Chang'e-4 captured this image just prior to deploying its rover, Yutu-2. Pictured are the rover's wheel (left), the lander deck (bottom), and the deployment ramps (bottom right). Credit: CNSA/CLEP


Yutu-2 rolled off the Chang'e-4 lander, and onto the surface of the Moon's far side, at 14:22 UTC, Jan 3, 2019. Note that the deep shadows projected by the rover show that there is no true 'dark side' of the Moon. Only a thin crescent of the moon is lit from Earth's side today, but most of the lunar surface is lit on the far side. Credit: CNSA/CLEP

Additionally, the lander is carrying live samples of insect eggs and plant seeds, in a sealed 'biosphere' chamber, to test how these organisms can survive with the kind of radiation exposure they receive on the lunar surface. Chang'e-4 also has science instruments, including a spectrometer that will test the hypothesis that the far side of the Moon is an excellent location from which to study the universe via radio astronomy.

"The far side of the moon is a rare quiet place that is free from interference of radio signals from Earth," spokesperson for the Chang'e-4 mission, Yu Guobin, said, according to China's news agency Xinhua. "This probe can fill the gap of low-frequency observation in radio astronomy and will provide important information for studying the origin of stars and nebula evolution."


Chinese spacecraft makes historic landing on dark side of moon

A Chinese spacecraft has made history in the first-ever landing on the dark side of the moon in the unexplored South Pole-Aitken basin, according to news reports.

The Chang'e 4 space probe, which includes a lander and a rover, touched down Thursday morning Beijing time in the largest, deepest crater on the moon's surface, The Guardian reported, citing a confirmation from the Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.

“China’s Chang’e 4 landed on the moon’s far side, inaugurating a new chapter in mankind’s lunar exploration history,” China Daily posted on Twitter.

The Global Times, a Communist party publication, also confirmed the the China National Space Administration craft had "successfully made the first-ever soft landing" on the dark side of the moon, according to a post on social media.

#BREAKING: China’s Chang’e-4 probe successfully made the first-ever soft landing on the far side of the Moon on the South Pole-Aitken basin Thursday morning, a major milestone in space exploration. #ChangE4 pic.twitter.com/mt2YTWqlxs

&mdash Global Times (@globaltimesnews) January 3, 2019

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine acknowledged the accomplishment on social media.

“Congratulations to China’s Chang’e-4 team for what appears to be a successful landing on the far side of the Moon. This is a first for humanity and an impressive accomplishment!” Bridenstine said on social media.

Congratulations to China’s Chang’e-4 team for what appears to be a successful landing on the far side of the Moon. This is a first for humanity and an impressive accomplishment! pic.twitter.com/JfcBVsjRC8

&mdash Jim Bridenstine (@JimBridenstine) January 3, 2019

The mission launched in early December and is tasked with measuring the far side of the moon’s geology, including the terrain and mineral deposits. The mission could also offer insight into the formation of Earth’s nearest neighbor.

While astronauts with NASA’s Apollo missions saw and mapped parts of the far side of the moon, Chang’e 4’s successful landing marks the first time a probe has touched down there.


BEIJING — China’s burgeoning space program achieved a first on Thursday: a landing on the so-called dark side of the moon.

The United States, the then-Soviet Union and more recently China have all sent spacecraft to the near side of the moon, which faces Earth, but this is the first-ever landing on the other side.

The China National Space Administration said the 10:26 a.m. landing of the Chang'e-4 lunar explorer has “opened up a new chapter in human lunar exploration.”

A photo taken at 11:40 a.m. and sent back by Chang'e-4 shows a small crater and a barren surface that appears to be illuminated by a light from the spacecraft. Its name comes from that of a Chinese goddess who, according to legend, has lived on the moon for millennia.

The landing highlights China’s growing ambitions to rival the U.S., Russia and Europe in space, and more broadly, to cement China’s position as a regional and global power.

The Chang'e-4′s launch on Dec. 8 was hailed as one of the nation’s major achievements in 2018, and state broadcaster China Central Television announced Thursday’s landing to the public at the top of the noon news.

“The space dream is part of the dream to make China stronger,” President Xi Jinping said as far back as 2013, shortly after taking office.

In 2013, Chang'e-3, the predecessor craft to the current mission, made the first moon landing since the former Soviet Union’s Luna 24 in 1976. The United States is the only country that has successfully sent a person to the moon, though China is considering a crewed mission too.

For now, it plans to send its Chang'e-5 probe to the moon next year and have it return to Earth with samples — also not done since the Soviet mission in 1976.

The relatively unexplored far side of the moon has a different composition than the near side, where previous missions have landed.

Chang'e-4, a combined lander and rover, will make astronomical observations and probe the structure and mineral composition of the terrain above and below the surface.

“The far side of the moon is a rare quiet place that is free from interference from radio signals from Earth,” mission spokesman Yu Guobin said, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. “This probe can fill the gap of low-frequency observation in radio astronomy and will provide important information for studying the origin of stars and nebula evolution.”

One challenge of operating on the far side of the moon is communicating with Earth. China launched a relay satellite in May so that Chang'e-4 can send back information.


Chinese spacecraft makes historic landing on far side of moon

A Chinese spacecraft has made history in the first-ever landing on the far side of the moon in the unexplored South Pole-Aitken basin, according to news reports.

The Chang'e 4 space probe, which includes a lander and a rover, touched down Thursday morning Beijing time in the largest, deepest crater on the moon's surface, The Guardian reported, citing a confirmation from the Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.

“China’s Chang’e 4 landed on the moon’s far side, inaugurating a new chapter in mankind’s lunar exploration history,” China Daily posted on Twitter.

The Global Times, a Communist party publication, also confirmed the the China National Space Administration craft had "successfully made the first-ever soft landing" on the far side of the moon, according to a post on social media.

#BREAKING: China’s Chang’e-4 probe successfully made the first-ever soft landing on the far side of the Moon on the South Pole-Aitken basin Thursday morning, a major milestone in space exploration. #ChangE4 pic.twitter.com/mt2YTWqlxs

&mdash Global Times (@globaltimesnews) January 3, 2019

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine acknowledged the accomplishment on social media.

“Congratulations to China’s Chang’e-4 team for what appears to be a successful landing on the far side of the Moon. This is a first for humanity and an impressive accomplishment!” Bridenstine said on social media.

Congratulations to China’s Chang’e-4 team for what appears to be a successful landing on the far side of the Moon. This is a first for humanity and an impressive accomplishment! pic.twitter.com/JfcBVsjRC8

&mdash Jim Bridenstine (@JimBridenstine) January 3, 2019

The mission launched in early December and is tasked with measuring the far side of the moon’s geology, including the terrain and mineral deposits. The mission could also offer insight into the formation of Earth’s nearest neighbor.

While astronauts with NASA’s Apollo missions saw and mapped parts of the far side of the moon, Chang’e 4’s successful landing marks the first time a probe has touched down there.


New space race? Scientist cautions lawmakers about China's moon missions

A scientist from the University of Central Florida is in Washington, D.C. Tuesday to explain why renewed interest in traveling to the moon could also trigger a geopolitical crisis with China.

Last month, China announced it landed an unmanned capsule on the far side of the moon. The concern is that China's lunar exploration could disturb what the United States left behind during the Apollo missions from 1969 to 1972.

"There's no atmosphere to speak of on the moon. So when a rocket, a lunar lander the size of the lunar module lands on the moon it blows soil -- literally -- completely around the moon," said UCF Florida Space Institute scientist Phil Metzger.

A few years ago, Metzger worked with NASA on a proposal to protect the Apollo sites as landmarks. That way, private companies headed to the moon would steer clear of those spots, so that the dust from their landers doesn’t cover Neil Armstrong’s famous footprint or knock over the American flag.

Metzger put together a two-kilometer "no landing" radius to keep the sites safe. Then in January, China landed on the far side of the moon.

There is a national treaty that no nation can claim ownership of the moon, but Metzger is worried China will start to create wider and wider radii to protect their landing sites, preventing other countries from landing on key spots.

The Outer Space Treaty, in which no nation can claim ownership of the moon, is largely symbolic. Any nation can pull out of the treaty with only a year's notice to the international community.

Also, the moon is full of money: There's oxygen for fuel and vast mineral resources that, if mined, would produce more revenue than the entire gross world product of every nation on earth.

"They're prospecting for resources," Metzger said. "I would say those locations are the most valuable real estate in the solar system."

Metzger is addressing his concerns in Washington, warning that there could be a new space race on the horizon.

"I would say most leaders are asleep on this issue, because it sounds like science fiction. We need to make sure one country doesn't grab it all," Metzger said.


China Makes Historic 1st Landing on Mysterious Far Side of the Moon

Here are some great news guys. A Chinese spacecraft called Chang’e 4 created history by becoming the first ever to successfully land on the dark side of the moon and we are damn enthusiastic about what pics they have in store for us to see.

But before that, you should learn that this is really a historic even t since no one has ever maintained to land on the dark side of the moon.

As Per to the state media reports, the china’s spacecraft reached down at 10:26 AM local time (02:26 am GMT) and took ‘close-range’ photos of the dark side of the moon.

Earlier, spacecraft have noted the far side of the moon but none have maintained to land on its surface up until now.

Watch the Video below:

You see, the dark side of the loaf is an uncharted, highland and rocky region which is why landing in this area is highly difficult. This is one of the main reasons why making a successful landing was a notable achievement for China.

The close-up pictures were shared by China’s National Space Administration (CNSA). In the photographs, you can look at close-ups of the moony surface that was captured.

This photo of the spacecraft making a close touch down on the unexplored place of the moon is surreal.

This is a satellite photo of the spacecraft making a wonderful landing on the dark surface of the loaf.

Via: Scoopwhop

Ahh! This image is truly priceless. Now, we know what the far side of the moon looks like.

Via: Scoopwhop

This is the first close-up shot taken of the far side of the moon which can never be visible from earth.

Via: Scoopwhop


Watch the video: Γιατί βλέπουμε πάντα μία πλευρά της Σελήνης; (January 2023).

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