The ambitious project by China National Space Administration (CNSA) is to land a rover on the dark side of the moon on New Year’s Eve for the first time in history.
The project is part of Chinese Lunar Exploration Program (CLEP), which launched its first lunar orbiter, Chang’e 1, has already performed a soft landing using the Chang’e 3 orbiter in December 2013. The deployed lander, Yutu, transmitted high-resolution pictures of the surface and discovered a new type of basaltic rock. The lander died in March of 2015.
The subsequent mission, Chang’e 4, is expected to land on the far side of the moon on 31st December, however, depending on circumstances it could be delayed by a couple of days. The mission was launched on 7th December 2018.
The lander is expected to touch down in the South Pole-Aitken Basin, which is on the far side of the Moon.
How to watch China’s moon landing live
Just like the previous mission’s landing was streamed live, Chang’e 4 landing will also be streamed live on CGTN.
Why is the “dark side of the moon” important?
“Dark side of the moon” isn’t really dark, however, the moniker is given due to the fact that the moon is tidal-locked with earth and the far side is never visible from earth. Due to the fact that it remains unseen, little was known about the far side of the moon until the 1950s. The only knowledge came from limited glimpses through librations of the Moon.
CNSA’s Chang’e 4 mission will be the first mission to attempt landing on the far side.
The importance of the far side lies in the fact that it is shielded from radio transmission from Earth, and is potentially a great spot to place radio telescopes. The natural arches of the craters prevalent on surface provides natural conditions needed for such radio telescopes to cut out stray signals.
What will CNSA Chang’e 4 (CH-4) do on the far side of the moon?
The CH-4 mission will carry several science payloads from multiple international partners and is equipped. The spacecraft has 3 modules
- Relay Satellite – which will provide relay communication between Earth and the lander
- Lander – is equipped with a Landing Camera, a terrain Camera, a
Low frequencySpectrometer to study solar bursts, a neutron dosimterto study solar windsanda sealed container that contains seeds and insect eggs to test if plants and insects could hatch and grow in synergy.
- Rover – has Panoramic Camera to send back images, a ground penetrating radar, infrared spectrometer to identify surface materials.
Watch the event live at CGTN live on 31st December.