This is a first: a probe sent by the Chinese Space Agency landed this Thursday, 3 January on the far side of the Moon. After a successful moon landing, the lander and rover transmitted never before seen images of the Moon, which has to this day kept many of its secrets.
The hidden face of the Moon is revealed. This Thursday, 3 January, the Chinese Space Agency announced the successful landing of its probe Chang'e-4. Its mission: to explore the area that the Moon never presents to us. A historic event, since it is the first time that a space programme is entirely dedicated to this part of the Moon.
‘The moon landing went smoothly and in an ideal location in the heart of the area we were aiming for,’ said Sun Zezhou, chief engineer on the Chang'e-4 mission.
The main obstacle: communication
Having barely landed on the lunar surface, Chang'e-4 transmitted its first images. You can see the colour and the structure of the soil, which at first glance does not seem different from the side we already know of. And yet: unlike the Moon’s visible side, the hidden part is mountainous and covered in craters. But what is even more impressive is not visible: it is the technical feat achieved by the Chinese Space Agency.
Indeed, since the dark side is always oriented in the opposite direction from the Earth, the main challenge was communication. Since it was not directed toward the Earth, the probe could not transmit its signals to the Earth because the radio waves were blocked by the Moon’s rocky mass. In May, China launched Quaqiao, a satellite relay between Chang'e-4 and Earth.
China joins the ranks of NASA and Roscosmos
Another challenge: surviving a hostile environment. In addition to the difficult topology, the climate is also tough: the lunar night (which equals to 14 days on Earth) is characterised by temperatures that can reach down to -173 ° C. Whereas during the day, which also lasts 14 Earth days, they can reach 127 ° C.
With this mission, China confirms its ambitions: to rise to NASA and Roscosmos’s level. ‘We are making [China] a space power. And in doing so, we can say that today's event is particularly important and symbolic,’ Wu Weiren, chief engineer, said of the Chinese lunar exploration program.
Check out the video above to see the amazing images!