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China’s Chang’e-4 spacecraft lands on far side of the moon

10 January 2019

While this is by no means the first time living organisms have been launched into space (see Ham and Enos the chimpanzees, the two tortoises that circled the moon and the Apollo moon missions for reference), this is the first time plants and animals have landed on the far side of the moon. The rover then began conducting scientific operations at this location, which is the first point in its planned exploration path. The Von Kármán crater measures 186km in diameter and is located within 2,500km-wide South Pole-Aitken basin. James Head said that LPR aboard Chang'e-3 will supply photographs of subsurface lava flow units and lunar soil layers.

The concept of deploying a relay satellite in the halo orbit was first put forward by USA space experts in the 1960s, but was realized by Chinese space engineers.

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Over the course of the next three months, the mission will study the ancient impact basin to learn more about the early Solar System and the origins of the Moon. "There's a lot of enthusiasm for the space program in China". The moon's dark side remains largely unexplored because its position shields it from radio frequencies, preventing direct with the Earth. Liu also serves as the experiment's chief director.

Chang'e-4 spacecraft of China touched down on far side of Moon on January 2 at 9.26pm Eastern. For all those uninitiated and confused, the far side of the Moon is that portion which is rarely studied by the researchers. If similar relay stations were to hover above the far side of the Moon in the future and use radio waves to communicate with Earth, they will interfere (in the same way that radio and TV stations do on Earth) with radio observatories that would be placed on the far side of the Moon.

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"As long as we keep it clean of radio interference, the far side of the moon is very good for radio astronomy", he said.

Harvard University astronomer Avi Loeb noted, however, that the relay satellite needed to send back information from the far side also contaminates the sky.

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The pioneering landing highlights China's ambitions to rival the U.S., Russian Federation and Europe in space. The country's last lunar rover, Yutu, had spent 972 days on the lunar surface by the time its mission ended in 2016.

China’s Chang’e-4 spacecraft lands on far side of the moon