China lands probe on far side of moon

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The tasks of the Chang'e-4 include astronomical observation, surveying the moon's terrain, landform and mineral composition, and measuring the neutron radiation and neutral atoms to study the environment on the far side of the moon, the China National Space Administration has said.

A Chinese lunar rover landed on the dark side of the moon on Thursday (Jan 3), in a global first that boosts Beijing's ambitions to become a space superpower.

The lunar explorer Chang'e-4 had touched down at 10:26 a.m to make first-ever landing on the far side of the moon.

It is the first time a soft landing has been performed on the Moon's far side - also known as the dark side because it faces away from earth and remains comparatively unknown - due to challenges relaying signals.

China, which is investing billions in its military-run space programme, has previously said it hopes to have a crewed space station by 2022.

The Chang'e-4 lunar probe mission - named after the moon goddess in Chinese mythology - launched last December from the southwestern Xichang launch centre.

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While spacecraft have taken photos of the unexplored side of the moon's surface, this is the first time a rover has touched down on the Von Karman crater.

At the weekend, Chinese state media said the probe had entered an elliptical path around the Moon, bringing the vehicles to within 15km of the lunar surface at its closest point. "China views this landing as just a steppingstone, as it also views its future manned lunar landing, since its long-term goal is to colonize the moon and use it as a vast supply of energy".

The rover's instruments have to withstand those fluctuations and it has to generate enough energy to sustain it during the long night.

"This mission is also the most meaningful deep space exploration research project in the world in 2018".

The mission is part of China's ambitious push to explore the Moon's resources and potential as a space base.

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