China launches lunar probe to study moon's far side

Michele Stevens
December 11, 2018

It's official. At 2:23 am in southern China, a rocket carrying unique payload successfully launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center.

The Moon's far side is blocked off from the radio noise of Earth, and could serve as a potential location for a radio telescope.

"The soft landing and exploration of the far side, which has never been done before, will gain first-hand information about the terrain and lunar soil components and other scientific data, which will help enrich our understanding of the moon and the universe", Zhang He, executive director of the Chang'e-4 probe project, told the state-run news agency. The mission will include a low-frequency radio-astronomical study of the lunar surface, a shallow exploration beneath the surface, and a study of the topographical and mineralogical composition of the SPA basin.

The moon rover will also be conducting a fascinating biology experiment to check whether plant seeds will develop and silkworm eggs will hatch on the low gravity environment of the moon, according to Xinhua. Lagrange points are positions in space where a small object (the satellite, in this case) is gravitationally balanced between two large objects (the moon and the Earth, in this case) and will remain in place relative to them.

This article was originally published by Futurism.

Goal of the mission is to try to deliver samples of lunar soil to Earth.

To get around that, China launched a relay satellite in May that will allow the probe to stay in contact with the scientists.

A Chinese spacecraft is headed toward the moon on a historic mission.

The rover is expected to land around the New Year to carry out experiments and explore the untrodden terrain.

The country's first lunar probe, Chang'e-1, was launched in 2007, making China the fifth country to develop and launch a lunar probe on its own. Its program also suffered a rare setback previous year with the dialed launch of its Long March 5 rocket.

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