China's lunar probe makes landing on the 'dark side' of moon

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In this photo provided January 3, 2019, by China National Space Administration via Xinhua News Agency, the first image of the moon's far side taken by China's Chang'e-4 probe.

China has said it wants to become a leading power in space exploration alongside Russian Federation and the US.

As reported by the Metro, mission spokesman Yu Guobin said: "The far side of the moon is a rare quiet place that is free from interference of radio signals from Earth". When Chang'e 3 landed successfully, the team set to work reconfiguring Chang'e 4 for its far side deployment.

The successful touch down placed the landed in Von Karaman crater located on the moon's far side South Pole-Aitken basin. But no probe had yet landed on the moon's dark side.

TRT World spoke to Associate Professor of Astrophysics at Keele University Jacco van Loon.

In 2013, Chang'e 3 made the first moon landing since the former Soviet Union's Luna 24 in 1976.

The scientific tasks of the Chang'e-4 mission include low-frequency radio astronomical observation, surveying the terrain and landforms, detecting the mineral composition and shallow lunar surface structure, and measuring the neutron radiation and neutral atoms to study the environment on the far side of the moon, according to CNSA.

The Chang'e-4 lunar probe mission - named after the moon goddess in Chinese mythology - launched on a Long March 3B rocket from the southwestern Xichang launch centre at 2.23 am (1823 GMT), according to the official Xinhua news agency.

With the communication assistance of the relay satellite Queqiao (Magpie Bridge) the probe sent back the first-ever close-up photograph of the moon's far side, opening a new chapter in lunar exploration. The Chang'e-4 probe has already sent back its first pictures from the surface.

According to National Geographic, though CNSA is secretive, previous reports indicated it was targeting the Von Kármán crater located in the Moon's South Pole-Aitken basin, the latter of which is "a low-lying feature more than 2,414km across that covers almost a quarter of the Moon's surface", in addition to one of the largest known impact craters in the Solar System.

In addition, this part of the Moon is not visible from Earth due to a phenomenon known as tidal locking.

The landing was also greeted by Nasa administrator Jim Brindestine.

Mr Zhang He, executive director of the Chang'e-4 probe project, from the China Academy of Space Technology, said: "We chose a vertical descent strategy to avoid the influence of the mountains on the flight track". When there's a full moon in our sky, the far side is dark.

The Chang'e-4 mission took off for the moon just over a month ago, and reached orbit around the satellite on December 12.

It also takes approximately 27 days for the moon to rotate once on its axis.

In another global premiere, the Chinese space agency has also announced that the rover carries seeds and cocoons from which it will grow flowers, potatoes, and silkworm.

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