Human race planted the flag of humanity on the moon’s far side. On the 2nd of January, 2019, during the night time, the mission of the robotic of China, Chang’e 4, touched the surface of the moon which was 115-mile-wide or 186 kilometers, Von Kármán Crater, in that way marking the first soft and controlled landing on this far and mysterious lunar side.
In the months that come, Chang’e four is going to perform a lot of different scientific work, in order to help scientist to understand the formation, evolution and the structure of the natural satellite of the planet Earth much better than now.
However this mission’s symbolic pull is going to resonate with the masses: A shortened list of unfamiliar and unexplored places in the solar system, as a result of that.
This historic landing, which occurred at 9:26 p.m. EST, as the space officials of China stated, was motivated by two huge NASA space travel milestones. On New Year’s Eve, the spacecraft OSIRIS Rex entered the orbit of Bennu, an asteroid near the planet Earth, while New Horizons probe was zooming around the object called Ultima Thule in the distance, right after the midnight on the 1st of January.
This had been the first and most impressive achievement of the human race.
Unknown and unexplored territory – Terra incognita.
This natural satellite will probably need just the same time for orbiting around the planet as the time the moon needs when it is spinning around its axis, and that is 27.3 days. That is the reason why here on Earth we can only see that lunar side, which is called the near side.
The near side, which can be seen from our planet, welcomed numerous visitors in the past, and some of them were robotic while others were human. Another interesting thing is that the six Apollo missions of NASA which touched the surface of the moon were just on the so-called near side. However, the other side, called far side is definitely harder target for exploring it from the surface, as the rocky bulk of the moon blocks the direct communication with landers or also rovers placed right there.
However, this problem had to be solved, so China decided to launch Queqiao, which is a relay satellite. Quegiao was launched in May last year, and it set up shop at the Earth-Moon Lagrange point 2, which is a stable gravitational spot out of the moon, so that it could have the ability to keep an eye on Chang’e 4, together with its home planet.
The flow of data through this satellite is probably going to be quite extensive.
The Chang’e four satellite has been launched on the 7th of December, and after 4 or 5 days, it entered the orbit of the moon, boasting eight scientific instruments: four apiece on a stationary lander and a mobile rover.
The stationary lander also features the Terrain Camera, The Lunar Lander Neutrons and Dosimetry, the Landing Camera and the Low-Frequency Spectrometer provided by Germany. On the other hand, the rover features the Visible and Near-Infrared Imaging Spectrometer, the Lunar Penetrating Radar, and also the Advances Small Analyzer for Neutrals that was contributed by Sweden.
Because of these features, the satellite is going to have the ability to characterize everything that surrounds it in a lot of details, which include examining the surface’s composition, and even the layered structure that the ground under the feet of the lander has. This type of observations is going to be very helpful and useful for researchers in order to better comprehend the difference between the far and the near side of the moon, and even why such difference exists at all. For instance, some volcanic plains are covering almost the entire near side while they are almost not present on the other side, the far one.
This mission also has the responsibility to provide scientists with dramatic and intriguing imagery too. The Von Kármán Crater is lying within the South Pole-Aitken or SPA basin, which is probably the largest one in our solar system. This basin is 1,550 miles or 2,500 kilometers, from one rim to another, and it is deep almost 7.5 miles or 12 kilometers.
This mission will also do biological experiments, tracking silkworms, and potatoes and also Arabidopsis plants which are growing and developing on the surface of the moon. Another purpose of the mission is the radio-astronomy observations, as of the quiet and peaceful nature of the mysterious far side.
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Image Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University