China space rover to land on far side of moon

Manila Times - - World -

BEI­JING: China launched a rover early Satur­day des­tined to land on the far side of

su­per­power, state me­dia said.

named af­ter the moon god­dess in Chi­nese mythol­ogy — launched on a Long March

launch cen­ter at 2:23 am (1823 GMT), acThe blast-off marked the start of a long

around the New Year to carry out ex­per­i­ments and sur­vey the un­trod­den ter­rain.

land on and ex­plore the far side of the

- man­der He Rong­wei of China Aerospace Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy Corp, the main state-owned space con­trac­tor.

“This mis­sion is also the most mean­ing­ful deep space ex­plo­ration re­search

ac­cord­ing to state-run Glob­alTimes.

Un­like the near side of the moon that is “tidally locked” and al­ways

ar­eas to touch down on, the far side is moun­tain­ous and rugged.

It was not until 1959 that the

- ages of the heav­ily cratered sur­face, un­cloak­ing some of the mys­tery of

No lan­der or rover has ever touched the sur­face there, po­si­tion­ing China as

“China over the past 10 or 20 years has been sys­tem­at­i­cally tick­ing off the

Union did in the 1960s and 1970s in space ex­plo­ration,” said Jonathan McDow­ell, an as­tronomer at the Har­vardSmith­so­nian Cen­ter for Astro­physics.

done some­thing that no one else has

done be­fore.”

It is no easy tech­no­log­i­cal feat — China has been pre­par­ing for this mo­ment for years.

is com­mu­ni­cat­ing with the robotic lan­der: as the far side of the moon al­ways points away from earth, there is no di­rect “line of sight” for sig­nals.

As a so­lu­tion, China in May blasted

that it can re­lay data and com­mands be­tween the lan­der and earth.

Ad­ding to the dif­fi­cul­ties,

— known for its craggy and com­plex ter­rain — state me­dia has said.

The probe is car­ry­ing six ex­per­i­ments from China and four from abroad.

They in­clude low-fre­quency ra­dio as­tro­nom­i­cal stud­ies — aim­ing to take ad­van­tage of the lack of in­ter­fer­ence on the far side — as well as min­eral and ra­di­a­tion tests, Xin­hua cited the China Na­tional Space Ad­min­is­tra­tion as say­ing.

The ex­per­i­ments also in­volve plant­ing potato and other seeds, ac­cord­ing to Chi­nese me­dia re­ports.

mil­i­tary- run space pro­gram, with hopes of hav­ing a crewed space sta­tion by 2022, and of even­tu­ally send­ing hu­mans to the moon.

- gi­neer­ing ex­per­tise needed to ex­plore

and set­tle the moon, McDow­ell said.

“The main thing about this mis­sion is not sci­ence, this is a tech­nol­ogy mis­sion,” he said.

probe to land on the moon, fol­low­ing the Yutu (“Jade Rab­bit”) rover mis­sion in 2013.

faces an ar­ray of ex­treme chal­lenges.

Dur­ing the lu­nar night — which lasts 14 earth days — tem­per­a­tures will drop as low as mi­nus 173 de­grees Cel­sius (mi­nus 279 Fahren­heit). Dur­ing the lu­nar day, also last­ing 14 earth days, tem­per­a­tures soar as high as 127 C (261 F).

must gen­er­ate enough en­ergy to sus­tain it dur­ing the long night.

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