China's Chang'e-4 touching down on far side of the moon


China's Chang'e-4 probe made a "smooth and precise" landing on the far side of the Moon at 10:26 a.m. BJT Thursday.

The drive follows the successful landing of the lunar explorer Chang'e 4 on Thursday morning Beijing time (just before 2.30am GMT).

Wu Weiren, the chief designer of the Lunar Exploration Project, told CCTV that it was "a small step for the rover, but one giant leap for the Chinese nation".

We've never before landed a probe on the far side of the moon (sometimes incorrectly called the "dark side") because it comes with its own unique challenges.

Adding to the difficulties, Chang'e-4 was sent to the Aitken Basin in the lunar south pole region - known for its craggy and complex terrain - state media has said.

"The landing on the far side shows China's technology is powerful", said He Qisong, a space expert at the East China University of Science and Law in Shanghai.

The Chang'e-4 lunar probe made a soft-landing and transmitted the first-ever "close range" image of the far side of the moon, the China National Space Administration said.

Shortly after landing, the Chang'e-4 sent a photo of the lunar surface to the Queqiao ("Magpie Bridge") satellite, which was launched last May in the first phase of the historic mission.

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The country's rover will study a basin more than 1,550 miles in diameter called the Von Kármán crater, and it'll carry a spectrometer that will enable it to perform low-frequency radio astronomy observations, as the moon blocks it from radio noise coming from Earth, according to the BBC.

China's growing ambitions in space go hand in hand with its more terrestrial competition with the United States.

The Chang'e-4 mission launched in December 2018 and touched down on the lunar surface this month.

Yung Kai-leung with a model of the Chang'e-4's camera system. There are plans for a Chang'e 5 probe to reach the moon next year and return to Earth with samples. Potato and Arabidopsis plant seeds enclosed in a mini biosphere have been sent to the Moon to see how they breathe and use photosynthesis in these harsh surroundings.

As reported by the Metro, mission spokesman Yu Guobin said: "The far side of the moon is a rare quiet place that is free from interference of radio signals from Earth".

Because the far side faces away from Earth, it is also shielded from radio transmissions - making it the flawless place from which to study the universe.

It was not until 1959 that the Soviet Union captured the first images of the heavily cratered surface, uncloaking some of the mystery of the moon's "dark side".

The moon is "tidally locked" to Earth in its rotation so the same side is always facing Earth. "And we're gradually realizing it".