China Plans to Send Lunar Probe to the Far Side of the Moon
China released their plans to land the Chang’e-4 probe on the dark side of the moon a part of the moon that hasn’t been explored before according the chief engineer for the Lunar Exploration Program Wu Weiren. Wu said that they might be choosing a site that is difficult to land and far more technically challenging. Their next move might be landing a space craft on the far side of the moon.
The dark side of the moon is not actually dark as it only receives just as much sunlight as the hemisphere that can be seen. The reason for the dark or it’s called the far side of the moon is that it never faces the Earth a phenomenon that is called tidal locking. In the past million of years the Earth’s gravity slowed the moon rotation which matches it to the speed of its orbit.
In 1959 the Soviet probe Luna-3 was the first probe to take a photograph of the dark side and astronauts of the Apollo 8 mission were the first humans to see the far side. Since then the dark side of the moon have been photographed by different probes. The Chinese lunar exploration program is named after its mythological moon goddess Chang’e has three stages which are orbiting, landing and return.
The first Chinese lunar probe was launched on October 24, 207 from southwestern Sichuan province and ended its 16 months mission on March 1, 2009 after crashed into the moon surface. The second Chinese lunar probe was launched the following year. Chang’e 3 was launched in2013 showed the completion of the second stage of the Chinese lunar program as it landed on the moon and was the first spacecraft to make it safety since the Soviet lunar probe.
Chang’e-4 is scheduled to launch in 2020 and will orbit around the moon before sending a rover to the surface.