China’s Chang’e-4 lunar rover lands on moon’s far side UPSC
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China’s Chang’e-4 lunar rover scripted history on January 3 when it made the first-ever soft landing on the far side of the moon and sent back close-up images of the previously unexplored region, a giant leap for cosmic exploration and a major boost to the Communist nation’s quest to become a space superpower.
The Chinese Lunar Exploration Program is designed to be conducted in three phases of incremental technological advancement: the first is to reach lunar orbit, a task completed by Chang’e 1 in 2007 and Chang’e 2 in 2010; the second is to land and rove on the Moon, as Chang’e 3 did in 2013 and Chang’e 4 did in January 2019; the third is to collect lunar samples from the near-side and send them to Earth, a task for the future Chang’e 5 and Chang’e 6 missions. The program aims to facilitate a crewed lunar landing in the 2030s and possibly build an outpost near the south pole
- Chang’e 4 is a Chinese lunar exploration mission that achieved the first soft landing on the far side of the Moon, on 3 January 2019.A communication relay satellite, Queqiao, was first launched to a halo orbit near the Earth-Moon L2 point in May 2018.
- The robotic lander and Yutu-2 (“Jade Rabbit”) rover were launched on 7 December 2018 and entered orbit around the Moon on 12 December 2018,a move aimed at accelerating aerospace innovation, cutting production costs, and promoting military–civilian relationships.
- Chang’e-4 mission has four scientific payloads developed by scientists from the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden and Saudi Arabia. Chang’e 4 is the fourth lunar probe launched by China since the country’s lunar programme was opened in 2004.
- The scientific tasks of the Chang’e-4 mission include low-frequency radio astronomical observation, surveying the terrain and landforms, detecting the mineral composition and shallow lunar surface structure, and measuring the neutron radiation and neutral atoms to study the environment on the far side of the moon.
- The lunar explorer landed on the far side of the moon and has already sent back its first pictures from the surface.
- The far side has been extensively photographed by spacecraft, starting with a Soviet probe in 1959, no probe had ever made a soft landing onto it.
- The pioneering achievement is another demonstration of China’s ambitions to be a space power. The country aims to land a crewed flight on the moon in the coming decade.
- The first-ever soft landing is being seen as a major milestone in space exploration because unlike previous moon missions that have landed on the Earth-facing side.
- This is the first time any craft has landed on the unexplored and rugged far side of the moon.
- The successful landing formally inaugurated the world’s first expedition to the far side that never faces the Earth and is expected to fulfil scientists’ long-held aspiration to closely observe the enormous region.
- Tidal forces on Earth slow the moon’s rotation to the point where the same side always faces Earth. The other side, most of which is never visible from Earth, is the far side of the moon.
- The far side of the moon is the hemisphere that never faces Earth, due to the moon’s rotation. It is sometimes mistakenly referred to as the “dark side of the moon,” even though it receives just as much sunlight as its Earth-facing side.