China Sends Probe to Far Side of the Moon

China has launched the first-ever spacecraft which will land on the dark side, also known as the far side of the moon. This is another significant and groundbreaking move in Chinas’ race for space exploration.

The dark side of the moon is the hemisphere that is always facing away from the earth. Although not devoid of light, its name refers to the unknown or unexplored side because in reality both sides of the moon receive equal light from the sun.

Until 1959 little to nothing was known about the far side of the moon, until the Soviet probe, Luna 3, photographed it for the first time.

On 3 January 2019, Chinas’ technological masterpiece, Chang’e-4, is expected to be the first ever attempt of landing on the lunar dark side.

This hemisphere is never visible from earth due to a phenomenon called tidal locking. Tidal locking is where there is no longer any angular momentum between two objects, in this case the earth and the moon, which causes only one side of the moon to ever be visible from earth.

Chang’e-4, named after the goddess of the moon, is a lander-rover combination probe, which will perform a landing at the South Pole-Aitken basin after its 27-day trip. Here it will perform radio-astronomical studies that, because the far side always faces away from Earth, will be free from interference from our planet’s ionosphere, human-made radio frequencies.

This mission is viewed by many as critical to China’s Space Program.