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Chinese probe 'expected' to land on dark side of moon

If mission is successful, China will become the first country to land an object on the far side of Earth's satellite
Independent Online Desk
Chinese probe 'expected' to land on dark side of moon
The launch of Chang'e 4 lunar probe on December 8, 2018 [Jiang Hongjing/Xinhua via AP]

A Chinese probe is expected to touch down on the dark side of the moon on Thursday, according to the CGTN state broadcaster, in a groundbreaking mission in space exploration.

China's space agency, however, has not confirmed the landing date for the unmanned Chang'e 4 lunar lander and rover spacecraft, which was launched on December 8, 2018 and is named after the Chinese goddess of the moon.

If the manoeuvre is successful, China will become the first country to land an object on the far side of Earth's nearest celestial neighbour.

The probe is carrying a robot vehicle that is to explore both above and below the lunar surface after arriving at the South Pole-Aitken basin's Von Karman crater. 

It is also equipped with a panorama camera and measuring devices to conduct experiments.

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 and auroral radiation noise", according to space industry expert Leonard David.

China's space programme has benefited from cooperation with Russia and European countries, although it was excluded from the 420-tonne International Space Station, mainly due to US concerns over transfer of technology that could be used for military purposes.

Its programme also suffered a rare setback last year with the failed launch of its Long March 5 rocket.

China conducted its first crewed space mission in 2003, making it only the third country after Russia and the US to do so.

It has put a pair of space stations into orbit, one of which is still operating as a precursor to a more than 60-tonne station that is due to come online in 2022. The launch of a Mars rover is planned for the mid-2020s.

Dark side

The moon's far side is also known as the dark side because it faces away from Earth and remains comparatively unknown.

It has a different composition than sites on the near side, where previous missions have landed.The United States sent 12 astronauts between 1969 and 1972 to the Earth's satellite.

The first Soviet probe, Luna 24, landed there in 1976.

It wasn't followed until 2013, when the first Chinese probe, the Chang'e 3, landed.

China plans to send its Chang'e 5 probe there next year and have it return to Earth with samples - the first time that will have been done since 1976. A crewed lunar mission is also under consideration.

In 2015, NASA, the US space agency, released an animation that shows satellite images of the far side of the moon.

NASA says the images show the moon illuminated by the sun, as it crosses between the DSCOVR spacecraft's Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera and telescope, and the Earth - one million miles away.Al Jazeera.

KK

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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