China Moon Mission
Chang’e-4 – named after the moon goddess in Chinese mythology – sent a photo of the moon’s surface to the Queqiao satellite, in orbit around the moon, said CCTV public television.
“We achieved an extremely accurate result. The landing was smooth and in an ideal place, in the center of the selected area, “said Sun Zezhou, head of the Chang’e-4 mission, the engineer of the National Space Administration of China (CNSA).
No probe or scanning module had ever landed on the surface of the moon’s hidden face before.
All the preceding moon landings took place on the visible side of the Moon, the closest to Earth, which is always oriented towards our planet.
The hidden face of the Moon is also called the “dark side”, although it is inappropriate, since sunlight bathes the entire surface of the Earth’s satellite.
The first one to capture images of the hidden side of the Moon was the Soviet Union on October 7, 1959 with its Luna 3 automatic probe.
China had been preparing this operation for years, especially difficult from a technological point of view.
It’s really a biggest task as well challenge to talking with that special lunar robot. Since the hidden face of the Moon is oriented in the opposite direction to the Earth, there is no direct “line of sight” to transmit signals, unless a relay is installed.
During the lunar night, which lasts 14 Earth days, temperatures drop to -173 degrees Celsius and during the lunar day, also equivalent to 14 Earth days, can reach 127ºC.
To make it even more difficult, the Chang’e-4 was sent in the direction of a region of the Moon’s south pole, the Aitken basin, whose terrain is particularly complex and steep.
The Chang’e-4 will carry out studies on low radiofrequencies, the cultivation of tomatoes on other planets and mineral resources, among other things.
“We are forging a power of space. In that process, we can say that today’s event is particularly symbolic, “said CNSA engineer Wu Weiren, head of the Chinese lunar program.
This is the second time that China sends a module to explore the lunar surface after the Yutu (“Jade Rabbit”) in 2013, which remained active for 31 months.
Next year it plans to launch a Chang’e-5 to extract samples and bring them to Earth.
China invests billions in its space program, led by the army. It has placed satellites in orbit for internal developments (Earth observation, telecommunications or the Beidou geolocation system) or for other countries.
China also want to send their robot on Mars soonest.
In November, China presented a replica of its first major space station, Tiangong (“Celestial Palace”), which it plans to launch around 2022 and succeed the International Space Station (ISS).
The ISS, which associates the United States, Russia, Europe, Japan and Canada, is expected to stop functioning in 2024.
China also aims to develop a reusable shuttle for 2021 and a super-powerful rocket capable of delivering heavier loads than those managed by NASA and private firm SpaceX, and have a lunar base.