China Lands on the Dark Side of the Moon

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Next year China will lead the world’s first mis­sion to land on the dark side of the moon. The coun­try’s Chang’e-4 probe, named af­ter the god­dess of the moon in Chi­nese mythol­ogy, will make a soft land­ing on the back side of the moon and carry out “in-place and pa­trolling sur­veys” ac­cord­ing to China’s lu­nar ex­plo­ration chief, Liu Jizhong.

The far hemi­sphere that is never di­rectly vis­i­ble from Earth has been pho­tographed—the first im­ages ap­peared in 1959—but it has never been ex­plored. Beijing has plans for a per­ma­nent or­bit­ing sta­tion by 2020, and aims to send a hu­man to the moon by 2036.

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