Research

The 'dark' side of the moon

Share
China's Yutu 2 rover moving across the far side of the moon

Every semester, Purdue University lunar and planetary scientist Jay Melosh demonstrates how the far side gets light using a bright light as the sun and students playing the roles of the moon and the Earth.

Wu Weiren, the chief designer of the Lunar Exploration Project, told CCTV it was "a small step for the rover, but one giant leap for the Chinese nation", according to the AP.

China's lunar rover has left the first-ever "footprint" on the far side of the moon, officials said Friday, hours after the robotic spacecraft successfully soft-landed on the mysterious and previously unexplored region of the Earth's satellite.

Chang'e-4 lunar probe mission - named after the moon goddess in Chinese mythology - was the second Chinese probe to land on the moon following the Yutu rover mission in 2013.

China has chosen the name "Yutu-2", or Jade Rabbit-2, for its new moon rover, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) announced late Thursday.

The rover, which weighs around 300 pounds, will explore the surrounding area of the far side of the moon, never before traversed.

China's mission is to learn more about the little-understood region of the moon and compete with the U.S. and Russian Federation as a powerhouse of space exploration. Instead of finding a collection of record players spinning Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon backwards, the probe sent back a photograph of a desolate rocky surface pitted with a single crater, said to be the oldest and deepest on the moon.

China was the first to complete a "soft landing", without damage, on the far side of the moon. "Probably after some years ordinary people like us can also travel up there to take a look", he said.

The Chang'e-4 lunar probe was launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China on December 8, 2018, and entered orbit around the Moon five days later.

The Chinese rover has six powered wheels, allowing it to continue to operate even if one wheel fails. The vehicle can slant up to 20 degrees and overcome obstacles up to 20 centimeters in size.

Despite the name of Pink Floyd's best-selling album, the side of the moon you can't see isn't always dark.

Share