China plans to land lunar probe on the moon’s far side
China plans to be the first country to land a lunar probe on the far side of the moon, a scientist from the Chinese government’s moon exploration department said Tuesday.
The mission will be carried out by Chang’e-4. Chang’e 4 will be China’s second lunar lander and rover, and built as a backup to Chang’e 3.
Zou Yongliao from the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ moon exploration department told state broadcaster CCTV the mission’s objective would be to study geological conditions on the moon’s far side, also known as the dark side.
That could eventually lead to the placement of a radio telescope for use by astronomers, something that would help “fill a void” in man’s knowledge of the universe, Zou said.
A successful landing, which would be the first of its kind, could enable the Chinese to place radio transmitters on the far side of the moon, which currently can’t be reached with transmissions from Earth.
The far side of the moon, or “dark side of the moon” as it is more commonly called, is never visible to Earth because of gravitational forces.
China’s next lunar mission is scheduled for 2017, when it will attempt to land an unmanned spaceship on the moon before returning to Earth with samples.