China launches mis­sion to moon’s ‘dark side’

Tempo - - News -

China launched a rover early Satur­day des­tined to land on the far side of the moon, a global first that would boost Bei­jing’s am­bi­tions to be­come a space su­per­power, state me­dia said.

The Chang’e-4 lu­nar probe mis­sion -- named af­ter the moon god­dess in Chi­nese mythol­ogy -- launched on a Long March 3B rocket from the south­west­ern Xichang launch cen­tre at 2:23 am (1823 GMT), ac­cord­ing to the of­fi­cial Xin­hua news agency.

The blast-off marked the start of a long jour­ney to the far side of the moon for the Chang’e-4 mis­sion, ex­pected to land around the New Year to carry out ex­per­i­ments and sur­vey the un­trod­den ter­rain.

“Chang’e-4 is hu­man­ity’s first probe to land on and ex­plore the far side of the moon,” said the mis­sion’s chief com­man­der 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 project in the world in 2018,” He said, ac­cord­ing to staterun Global Times.

Un­like the near side of the moon that is “tidally locked” and al­ways faces the earth, and of­fers many flat ar­eas to touch down on, the far side is moun­tain­ous and rugged.

It was not until 1959 that the Soviet Union cap­tured the first im­ages of the heav­ily cratered sur­face, un­cloak­ing some of the mys­tery of the moon’s “dark side”.

No lan­der or rover has ever touched the sur­face there, po­si­tion­ing China as the first na­tion to ex­plore the area.

“China over the past 10 or 20 years has been sys­tem­at­i­cally tick­ing off the var­i­ous firsts that Amer­ica and the Soviet Union did in the 1960s and 1970s in space ex­plo­ration,” said Jonathan McDow­ell, an as­tronomer at the Har­vard-Smith­so­nian Cen­ter for Astro­physics.

“This is one of the first times they’ve done some­thing that no one else has done be­fore.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines

© PressReader. All rights reserved.