China launches pioneering mission to far side of moon

China says it has launched first-ever lunar probe to land on far side of the moon

China says it has launched first-ever lunar probe to land on far side of the moon

XICHANG, Dec. 8 (Xinhua) - China's Chang'e-4 lunar probe was launched in the early hours of Saturday, and it is expected to make the first-ever soft landing on the far side of the moon. Scientists have speculated about a number of uses for the far side of the moon, including setting up radio telescopes.

The Chang'e-4 lunar probe was launched on a Long March 3B rocket from the southwestern Xichang launch centre, and is expected to reach its destination sometime around the turn of the year. A Long March-3B rocket, carrying the probe including a lander and a rover, blasted off from Xichang at 2:23 a.m., opening a new chapter in lunar exploration.

"Chang´e-4 is humanity´s first probe to land on and explore the far side of the moon", said the mission´s chief commander He Rongwei of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, the main state-owned space contractor.

Chang'e-4 will land inside the moon's oldest, biggest, and deepest impact structure, the South Pole-Aitken (SPA) basin.

If successful, the mission would propel the Chinese space program to a leading position in one of the most important areas of lunar exploration.

Since the moon's revolution cycle is the same as its rotation cycle, the same side always faces the earth.

"Chang'e" takes its name from the goddess of the moon in Chinese mythology. Its success provided a major boost to China´s space programme. The moon's far side is also known as the dark side because it faces away from Earth and remains comparatively unknown.

The mission also demonstrates China's growing ambitions as a space power to rival Russian Federation, the European Union and the U.S.

Three scientific and technological experiments, designed by Chinese universities, will also be carried out during the mission.

To solve this problem, the Chinese team launched a satellite into the L2 Lagrange point-one of the five points in a two-body system where the gravitational pull from both bodies nullifies the net effect enough for an object to be stable in that space without tumbling away into space.

As a solution, China in May blasted the Queqiao ("Magpie Bridge") satellite into the moon's orbit, positioning it so that it can relay data and commands between the lander and earth. It is the world's first communication satellite operating in that orbit, according to CNSA.

The rover is scheduled to observe the possibilities for sustaining plant life and seek potential water sources in the previously unexplored expanse, as well as conduct astronomical experiments aided by the far-side's natural shielding from Earth's electromagnetic waves. The earth's and moon's gravity balances the orbital motion of the satellite and makes it very fuel-efficient.