China's Change 4 Successfully Lands On Moon's Farther Side

Relay satellite Queqiao key role in moon's far side

China's recent space mission, the first landing of a probe on the far side of the moon, to give the country worldwide Prestige, national pride and promote the supremacy of the party a new legitimacy.

While in orbit, it can "see" both the earth and the far side of the moon. But exactly how it influences this interaction is something Swedish scientists want to know - and for that reason, they want Yutu-2 to last as long as it can.

The relay satellite, named Queqiao, meaning Magpie Bridge, after a Chinese legend, was launched on May 21, 2018, and became the first communication satellite operating in the halo orbit around the second Lagrangian (L2) point of the earth-moon system, almost 500,000 km from the earth. The lander then took a series of images that showed the rover rolling onto the lunar surface and then stopping at a point not far from the landing spot.

Artist's impression of the Chang'e-4 lander on the lunar surface. "There's a lot of enthusiasm for the space program in China".

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Other scientific objectives include measuring the chemical composition of lunar rocks and regolith, measuring lunar surface temperatures, studying cosmic rays, and observing the solar corona to learn more about the evolution and transport of Coronal Mass Ejections (CME) between the Sun and the Earth.

Researchers also hope to conduct low-frequency radio observations of the cosmos from the far side of the Moon, where atmospheric interference and radio signals from Earth will not be an issue.

One of the major technological hurdles is in targeting the side of the moon which constantly faces away from the Earth is that direct communication with the spacecraft isn't possible. Besides, radio signals also can not get to the spacecraft on the far side. During the Chinese moon probe, Chang'e 4, submitted this week, the first close-up images of the far side of the moon, delivered to the Nasa space probe "New Horizons", an image of the celestial body Ultima Thule, and the more than six billion kilometers from earth.

The pioneering landing highlights China's ambitions to rival the U.S., Russian Federation and Europe in space. The far side of the moon is heavily cratered and hosts one of the largest craters in the solar system, the South Pole-Aitken basin.

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