China launches rover for first far side of the moon landing
08 Décembre, 2018, 10:36 | Auteur: Therese Cote
China has launched a lunar rover on a historic mission to explore the dark side of the moon, with the potential to make revolutionary discoveries about the possibility of extraplanetary life.
While the terrain on the near side of the moon has many flat areas to touch down on, the far side is rugged and mountainous. It has a different composition than sites on the near side, where previous missions have landed.
Chang'e 4 is also a lander-rover combination and will explore both above and below the lunar surface after arriving at the South Pole-Aitken basin's Von Karman crater following a 27-day journey.
The probe is carrying six experiments from China and four from overseas.
In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, the Chang'e 4 lunar probe launches from the the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China's Sichuan Province, Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018.
China launched the relay satellite "Queqiao", meaning Magpie Bridge, on May 21 to set up the communication link between the earth and the moon's far side.
The Chang'e-4 mission will be a key step in revealing the mysterious far side of the moon.
Three scientific and technological experiments, designed by Chinese universities, will also be carried out during the mission.
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"The main thing about this mission is not science, this is a technology mission", he said.
The rover is scheduled to observe the possibilities for sustaining plant life and seek potential water sources in the previously unexplored expanse, as well as conduct astronomical experiments aided by the far-side's natural shielding from Earth's electromagnetic waves.
During the lunar night - which lasts 14 earth days - temperatures will drop as low as minus 173C, while during the lunar day, also lasting 14 earth days, temperatures rocket as high as 127C.
The rover´s instruments must withstand those fluctuations and it must generate enough energy to sustain it during the long night.
China's space program has benefited from cooperation with Russian Federation and European nations, although it was excluded from the 420-ton International Space Station, mainly due to US legislation barring such cooperation amid concerns over its strong military connections.
However, while China has insisted its ambitions are purely peaceful, the U.S. Defense Department has accused it of pursuing activities aimed at preventing other nations from using space-based assets during a crisis.
The project, he said in an interview with local website Netease, "greatly inspires everyone´s national pride and self-confidence".
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