China aims for first land­ing on the dark side of the Moon

The West Australian - - WORLD -

China is pre­par­ing to launch a ground­break­ing mis­sion to soft-land a space­craft on the largely un­ex­plored far side of the Moon, demon­strat­ing its grow­ing am­bi­tions as a space power to ri­val Rus­sia, the Euro­pean Union and the US.

With its Chang’e 4 mis­sion, China hopes to be the first coun­try to suc­cess­fully com­plete such a land­ing.

The Moon’s far side is also known as the dark side be­cause it faces away from Earth and re­mains com­par­a­tively un­known, with a dif­fer­ent com­po­si­tion from sites on the near side, where pre­vi­ous mis­sions have landed.

If suc­cess­ful, the mis­sion sched­uled to blast off to­day aboard a Long March 3B rocket will pro­pel the Chi­nese space pro­gram to a lead­ing po­si­tion in one of the most im­por­tant ar­eas of lu­nar ex­plo­ration.

The flight will take 27 days. China landed its Yutu, or Jade Rab­bit rover, on the Moon five years ago and plans to send its Chang’e 5 probe there next year and have it re­turn to Earth with sam­ples — the first time that will have been done since 1976. A crewed lu­nar mis­sion is also un­der con­sid­er­a­tion.

Chang’e 4 is also a lan­der-rover com­bi­na­tion and will ex­plore both above and be­low the lu­nar sur­face af­ter ar­riv­ing at the South Pole-Aitken Basin’s 2500km Von Kar­man crater.

Chang’e is the god­dess of the Moon in Chi­nese mythol­ogy.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.