A Chinese lunar probe named Chang’e-4 made the first-ever landing on the far side of the moon, state media said. China’s landing on the Dark side of the moon is being hailed as a historic mission which is being seen as an important step for China’s space programme. This is the first spacecraft ever to land on this side of the moon.
The landing “lifted the mysterious veil” from the far side of the moon, and “opened a new chapter in human lunar exploration”, the state broadcaster CCTV told Reuters. Previous spacecraft have seen the far side of the moon, but none has landed on it. The far side of the moon faces away from Earth and is relatively unexplored. It is also known as the dark side of the moon.
Earlier, the successful landing had sparked confusion when state-run media China Daily and CGTN deleted their tweets confirming the success of the mission, The Guardian reported. Two hours later, the state broadcaster CCTV confirmed the news that the lunar explorer Chang’e 4 touched down at 10:26 am at the top of its noon news broadcast.
China’s Chang’e-4 probe touched down on the far side of the moon Thursday, becoming the first spacecraft soft-landing on the moon’s uncharted side never visible from Earth. pic.twitter.com/ZXtgLYGoie
— CCTV (@CCTV) January 3, 2019
The mission is named after the goddess of the moon in Chinese mythology. Chang’e 4 carries a rover, which includes the carrying out low-frequency radio astronomical observations and probing of structure and mineral composition of the terrain, reported AP.
The Long March 3B rocket carrying Chang’e 4 blasted off on December 8 from Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southern China. It landed on the Von Karman crater in the South Pole-Aitken basin and then sent back a picture of the landing site shot by one of the monitor cameras on the probe’s lander, marking the world’s first image taken on the moon’s far side.
The picture, published by the China National Space Administration, shows the place where Chang’e 4’s rover will be heading to roam and survey.
With its Chang’e 4 mission, China has possibly become the first country to make a soft landing, which is a landing of a spacecraft during which no serious damage is incurred. The success of the mission has propelled the Chinese space program to a leading position in one of the most important areas of lunar exploration.
The United States is so far the only country to have landed humans on the moon. US President Donald Trump said in 2017 he wants to return astronauts to the lunar surface and establish a foundation there for an eventual mission to Mars.
The pioneering landing demonstrates China’s growing ambitions as a space power. In 2013, Chang’e 3 was the first spacecraft to land on the moon since the Soviet Union’s Luna 24 in 1976.