The Chang’e 4 mission, launched in December 2018, has helped China create history as the Chang’e 4 spacecraft landed on the far side of the moon this Thursday. The spacecraft, which had travelled to the moon from the Earth within three days since its launch, had since spent its time in the lunar orbit in preparation for the touchdown on the Von Karman crater.
The Von Karman crater is a relatively flat surface on the far side of the moon, which now also boasts of being the surface to accommodate the Chang’e 4 spacecraft, the first mission from Earth to witness the hitherto unseen far surface of the moon.
China’s Chang’e-4 probe softlands on Moon’s far
The state news agency, Xinhua, tweeted as Chang’e 4 landed on the lunar surface this Thursday morning, Beijing time. Xinhua has cited the China National Space Administration to add that the space probe, comprising of a lander and a rover,
landed at the preselected landing area on the far side of the moon at 10:26 a.m. Beijing Time
What makes Chang’e 4’s success unprecedented is the technical difficulty associated with landing on the far side of the moon, which includes the inability to communicate directly with the spacecraft as it inches closer to its target. To deal with this problem, the Chang’e 4 mission included the addition of a relay satellite to the lunar orbit last May for purposes of communication. This is in addition to the fact that while the far side of the moon has been seen and mapped before, the successful landing of Change 4 is the first time any spacecraft has physically been on the lunar surface, instead of observing from a distance as had been done by missions as early as the Apollo.
Change 4 is an integral part of China’s heavy investment in space research and the growing success of the same under the leadership of the China National Space Administration. It followed closely behind China’s successful Chang’e 3 mission, which had become the first soft landing on the moon since 1976. The Chang’e 4 landers and rover have a design similar to that of Chang’e 3 craft and its “Jade Rabbit” rover. The Chang’e 4 rover, however, carries a bigger payload, apart from boasting better capabilities, and shall be used to study geological conditions on the far side of the moon.
The Chang’e derives its name from the Chinese version of the lunar goddess who died after taking an elixir, following which she flew to the heavens to land on the moon and make it her final resting place.