China vis­its dark side of the Moon

Scottish Daily Mail - - Weekender - By Colin Fer­nan­dez Sci­ence Cor­re­spon­dent

CHINA launched the world’s first mis­sion to the dark side of the Moon yes­ter­day.

The Chang’e 4 mis­sion will drop a lu­nar lan­der and rover in the vast eight-mile deep South Pole-Aitken basin. The Moon’s dark side faces away from Earth and re­mains rel­a­tively un­known, al­though some light from the Sun does reach it.

The craft will ex­plore both above and be­low the lu­nar sur­face and carry out an ex­per­i­ment to see whether potato and mus­tard seeds can ger­mi­nate along­side silk­worms in a sealed con­tainer.

The mis­sion, which blasted off aboard a Long March 3B rocket, marks China’s grow­ing am­bi­tion to be­come a space power to ri­val Rus­sia, Europe and the US.

The probe will com­mu­ni­cate with Earth via a re­lay satel­lite called Que­qiao.

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