China Makes Historic Touchdown on Moon's Far Side

China Makes Historic Touchdown on Moon's Far Side

Another instrument on board the spacecraft known as the Advanced Small Analyzer for Neutrals (ASAN), will measure how solar wind - a flow of charged particles from the sun - interacts with the lunar surface.

The landing appears to have been accomplished without any major issues, however, and the Chinese lander and rover will be able to begin exploring the moon's far side, an environment astronauts and spacecraft have until today only seen from afar.

"Lunar rover Yutu-2 or Jade Rabbit-2, left the first-ever "footprint" from a human spacecraft on the far side of the moon late at night on Thursday, after it separated from the lander smoothly", state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

On top of this, 28 universities in China, all led by Chongqing University, will conduct experiments involving the cultivation of vegetables and flowers in airtight containers within the spacecraft.

We're looking forward to the treasure trove of data Chang'e-4 sends back, but the CNSA aren't stopping here - Chang'e-5 is scheduled to launch by 2020, with the aim of landing on the Moon and then returning to Earth. The first data from this instrument is expected to be available before February 11.

Of course, there is a dark side of the moon.

The lunar far side is often referred to as the "dark side", though "dark" in this case means "unseen" rather than "lacking light". "Probably after some years ordinary people like us can also travel up there to take a look", he said. There was very little news of the Chang'e 4 landing attempt before the official announcement it had been a success.

That satellite was successfully launched back in May, and has now been used to confirm the successful landing of Chang'e-4 in the Moon's South Pole-Aitken Basin, which measures around 2,500 km across and 13 km deep (1,550 and 8 mi).

In 2003, China became the third country to put a man in space with its own rocket after the former Soviet Union and the United States, and in 2017 it said it was preparing to send a person to the moon.

"It's an important milestone for China's space exploration", Wu Weiren, chief designer of the lunar exploration program, said, according to Xinhua.

But Fred Watson, who promotes Australia's astronomy endeavours as its astronomer-at-large, says the secrecy could simply be down to caution, similar to that shown by the Soviet Union in the early days of its competition with Nasa.

Ye Quanzhi says China has made efforts to be more open. "PR skills take time to develop but I think China will get there", he said.

The far side of the moon was first photographed in 1959, and missions from Europe, India, Russia and America in the last two decades have already mapped it.