Udayavni Special

China launches rover for first far side of the moon landing


Team Udayavani, Dec 8, 2018, 10:21 AM IST

Beijing: China launched a rover early Saturday morning destined to land on the far side of the moon, a global first that would boost Beijing’s ambitions to become a space superpower.

The Chang’e-4 lunar probe mission — named after the moon goddess in Chinese mythology — launched on a Long March 3B rocket from the southwestern Xichang launch centre in the pre-dawn hours, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

The successful launch marked the start of a long journey to the far side of the moon for the Chang’e-4 mission, which is expected to land around the New Year to carry out experiments and explore the untrodden terrain.

Unlike the near side of the moon that is “tidally locked” and always faces the earth, and offers many flat areas to touch down on, the far side is mountainous and rugged.

It was not until 1959 that the Soviet Union captured the first images of the heavily cratered surface, uncloaking some of the mystery of the moon’s “dark side”.

No lander or rover has ever touched the surface there, positioning China as the first nation to explore the terrain.

“China over the past 10 or 20 years has been systematically ticking off the various firsts that America and the Soviet Union did in the 1960s and 1970s in space exploration,” said Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

“This is one of the first times they’ve done something that no one else has done before.”

It is no easy technological feat — China has been preparing for this moment for years.

A major challenge for such a mission is communicating with the robotic lander: as the far side of the moon always points away from earth, there is no direct “line of sight” for signals.

As a solution, China in May blasted the Queqiao (“Magpie Bridge”) satellite into the moon’s orbit, positioning it so that it can relay data and commands between the lander and earth.

Adding to the difficulties, Chang’e-4 is being sent to the Aitken Basin in the lunar south pole region — known for its craggy and complex terrain — state media has said.

The probe is carrying six experiments from China and four from abroad.

They include low-frequency radio astronomical studies — aiming to take advantage of the lack of interference on the far side — mineral tests, and experiments planting potato and other seeds, local Chinese media reported.

Beijing is pouring billions into its military-run space programme, with hopes of having a crewed space station by 2022, and of eventually sending humans to the moon.

The Chang’e 4 mission is a step in that direction, significant for the engineering expertise needed to explore and settle the moon, McDowell said.

“The main thing about this mission is not science, this is a technology mission,” he said.

Chang’e-4 will be the second Chinese probe to land on the moon, following the Yutu (“Jade Rabbit”) rover mission in 2013.

Once on the moon’s surface, the rover faces an array of extreme challenges.

During the lunar night — which lasts 14 earth days — temperatures will drop as low as minus 173 degrees Celsius (-279 Fahrenheit), while during the lunar day, also lasting 14 earth days, temperatures rocket as high as 127 C (261 F).

Instruments must withstand those fluctuations and generate enough energy to sustain it during the long night.

Yutu conquered those challenges and, after initial setbacks, ultimately surveyed the moon’s surface for 31 months. Its success provided a major boost to China’s space programme.

Beijing is planning to send another lunar lander, Chang’e-5, next year to collect samples and bring them back to earth.

It is among a slew of ambitious Chinese targets, which include a reusable launcher by 2021, a super-powerful rocket capable of delivering payloads heavier than those NASA and private rocket firm SpaceX can handle, a moon base, a permanently crewed space station, and a Mars rover.

“Our country’s successful lunar exploration project not only vaults us to the top of the world’s space power ranks, it also allows the exploration of the far side of the moon,” said Niu Min, a booster and expert on China’s space programme.

The project, he said in an interview with local website Netease, “greatly inspires everyone’s national pride and self-confidence”.

Udayavani is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel and stay updated with the latest news.

Top News

Govt’s COVID-19 vaccine strategy ‘abject failure’; can’t blame Nehru when Modi in charge: Priyanka

DK DC announces new rules for marriages during wknd curfew; less than 50 guests, passes necessary

22 patients die due to interrupted supply of O2 at Nashik hospital

Covaxin neutralises double mutant strain: ICMR

Looks like K’taka govt changed its plan to impose lockdown after PM’s speech: Shivakumar

Serum prices COVID vaccine for pvt hospitals at Rs 600/dose; for state govts at Rs 400/dose

Pvt COVID-19 vaccination centres to procure directly from manufacturers form May 1




Related Articles More

Seoul court rejects sexual slavery claim against Tokyo

Silence, then cheers: Relief washes over George Floyd Square

US: Chauvin guilty of murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death

Queen enters ‘twilight’ of reign after farewell to Philip

India, China factor in regional prosperity; moment of choice for Pak, says Afghan prez

MUST WATCH

Jayalaxmi Silks Udyavara | Kanchipuram Sarees​ | Glorious Bridal Sarees Unboxing

Ram Navami Special | Exclusive Interview with Vishwa Prasanna Theertha Swamiji | Udayavani

A model police station with all Covid-19 precautions set up in Mangaluru

Udayavani 20-April-2021 News Bulletin

Beer truck overturns, people fight like cats and dogs

Latest Additions

Govt’s COVID-19 vaccine strategy ‘abject failure’; can’t blame Nehru when Modi in charge: Priyanka

Delhi govt ‘looted’ oxygen tanker going from Panipat to Faridabad: Haryana minister Anil Vij

Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal tests positive for coronavirus

DK DC announces new rules for marriages during wknd curfew; less than 50 guests, passes necessary

BSF demands FIR against Pakistani pigeon

Thanks for visiting Udayavani

You seem to have an Ad Blocker on.
To continue reading, please turn it off or whitelist Udayavani.