China shoots for first landing on far side of the moon (Update)

January 15, 2016
The moon's far hemisphere is never directly visible from Earth and while it has been photographed, with the first images appearing in 1959, it has never been explored

China will launch a mission to land on the far side of the moon in two years' time, state media reported, in what will be a first for humanity.

The 's far hemisphere is never directly visible from Earth and while it has been photographed, with the first images appearing in 1959, it has never been explored.

China's Chang'e-4 probe—named for the goddess of the moon in Chinese mythology—will be sent to it in 2018, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

"The Chang'e-4's lander and rover will make a soft landing on the back side of the moon, and will carry out in-place and patrolling surveys," it cited the country's chief Liu Jizhong as saying on Thursday.

Beijing sees its military-run, multi-billion-dollar space programme as a marker of its rising global stature and mounting technical expertise, as well as evidence of the ruling Communist Party's success in transforming the once poverty-stricken nation.

But for the most part it has so far replicated activities that the US and Soviet Union pioneered decades ago.

"The implementation of the Chang'e-4 mission has helped our country make the leap from following to leading in the field of lunar exploration," Liu added.

A model of a lunar rover known as The Yutu, or Jade Rabbit, seen on display at the China International Industry Fair in Shanghai
A model of a lunar rover known as The Yutu, or Jade Rabbit, seen on display at the China International Industry Fair in Shanghai, in 2013

In 2013, China landed a rover dubbed Yutu on the moon and the following year an unmanned probe completed its first return mission to the earth's only natural satellite.

Beijing has plans for a permanent orbiting station by 2020 and eventually to send a human to the moon.

Space flight is "an important manifestation of overall national strength", Xinhua cited science official Qian Yan as saying, adding that every success had "greatly stimulated the public's... pride in the achievements of the motherland's development."

Clive Neal, chair of the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group affiliated with NASA, confirmed that the Chang'e-4 mission was unprecedented.

"There has been no surface exploration of the far side," he told AFP Friday.

It is "very different to the near side because of the biggest hole in the solar system—the South Pole-Aitken basin, which may have exposed mantle materials—and the thicker lunar crust".

The basin is the largest known impact crater in the solar system, nearly 2,500 kilometres wide and 13 kilometres deep.

"I am sure the international lunar science community will be very excited about this ," he told AFP. "I know I am."

Explore further: China aims to be first to land probe on moon's far side

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10 comments

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Albert_Bijzitter
5 / 5 (3) Jan 15, 2016
Really? The "dark side" of the moon?

Perhaps the person who wrote the title of this article has seen to many Star Wars movies. The moon does not have a dark side. The only dark spots are the bottom of the craters at the poles.

The Chinese are aiming for the "far side" AKA "back side" of the moon with roughly 14 days of sunlight followed by 14 days of darkness, no different from the near side.
douglaskostyk
not rated yet Jan 15, 2016
At least the article says FAR side. anyway... "there is no dark side in the moon, really. As a matter of fact it's all dark"
PhotonX
not rated yet Jan 15, 2016
"There is no dark side in the moon, really. Matter of fact, it's all dark. The only thing that makes it look light is the sun."
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Never mind the poor wording. Go, China! It would be nice if it were a sample-return mission, though.
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LobsterCowboy
1.8 / 5 (5) Jan 15, 2016
all comments here made by self aggrandizing pedants
PhysicsMatter
1 / 5 (2) Jan 15, 2016
The question is: why Chinese are going where Soviets and US went decades ago namely nowhere.

I guess for the same reason; propaganda and military technology.
hemitite
not rated yet Jan 15, 2016
No worry LC, someone is sure to come along and aggrandize you too! ;)
hemitite
not rated yet Jan 15, 2016
BTW, that quote about the dark side of the moon is from Pink Floyd
https://www.youtu...th-BuCNY
PhotonX
not rated yet Jan 15, 2016
BTW, that quote about the dark side of the moon is from Pink Floyd
https://www.youtu...th-BuCNY
Yes, I assumed everyone would know that, but maybe not.
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adam_russell_9615
5 / 5 (3) Jan 18, 2016
Proof that there is no dark side of the moon:
http://news.natio...ASA-GIF/

Gif shows footage of the far side of the moon, and it is very well lit.
NiteSkyGerl
3 / 5 (6) Jan 19, 2016
China will launch a mission to land on the far side of the moon


Wow! Competent language on PO. Thx for not calling it the "dark side of the moon". As Pink Floyd actually pointed out.

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