China launches probe to explore dark side of Moon – Xinhua

China launched a first probe ever to explore the dark side of the Moon, marking another milestone in its ambitious space programme, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

The Moon is tidally locked to Earth, rotating at the same rate that it orbits our planet, so the far side is never visible from Earth. The probe, the Chang’e-4, is expected to make the first-ever soft landing on the far side of the Moon. Previous spacecraft have seen the far side of the Moon, but none has landed on it.

The far side of the moon known as ‘South Pole-Aitken Basin’ still remains a mystery among space scientists and by sending a probe there, China will outdo the historical achievements of the US and USSR.

Chang’e 4 is the fourth mission in the country’s lunar mission series which is being named after the Chinese moon goddess.

The tasks of the Chang’e-4 probe include low-frequency radio astronomical observation, surveying the terrain and landforms, detecting the mineral composition, and measuring the neutron radiation and neutral atoms to study the environment on the far side of the moon.

According to experts, landing on the far side of the moon is undoubtedly one of the most challenging missions ever launched by any of the world’s superpowers.

Communication difficulties will be the main problem faced by the Chinese team as they try to land on the other side of the moon. China is expected to consider using options like radio telescopes to communicate in the absence of a transmitting medium.

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