"Epic!" --WATCH: China's Chang'e-4 Probe Lands on Moon's Far Side

Kerry GarnerJan 04, 2019

"Congratulations to China's Chang'e-4 team for what appears to be a successful landing on the far side of the Moon".

Horgan's first chance came today, when the China National Space Administration (CNSA) revealed a picture of the Moon's far side. The United States' Apollo 8 mission sent three astronauts to fly around the moon in 1968, including around its far side.

Chang'e-4's low-frequency radio astronomical observation on the moon's far side will fill many gaps in astronomical observation.

The far side of the moon is "actually much more primitive" than the near side, with "really ancient crust that dates back to the very, very early solar system", said Briony Horgan, a planetary scientist at Purdue University, previously told NPR.

The images are close-ups of the moon's dark side, showing its cratered surface.

This landing marks an important step in space for China. In fact, that side of the moon was completely unobserved right up until 1959 when the Soviet Luna 3 probe photographed it for the first time.

FILE - In this December 8, 2018, file photo, and released by Xinhua News Agency, the Chang'e 4 lunar probe launches from the the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwestern China's Sichuan province. The relay satellite, dubbed Queqiao ("Magpie Bridge", a name inspired by a Chinese folk tale), is required because there's never any direct line of sight between Earth and Chang'e-4. Additionally, the data collected by Chang'e-4 and the Yutu II rover will inform China's lunar exploration program, which seeks to send taikonauts to the lunar surface by around 2030.

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.

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"I imagine we will see an announcement the Chinese do intend to send Taikonauts to the moon by 2030", said Davis.

The rover will also conduct mineral and radiation tests, the China National Space Administration said according to state news agency Xinhua.

The rover and lander will be able to gather information about the composition and formation of the far side, which has a distinctly different appearance from the near side. The plan was that if Chang'e-4 failed to touch the surface of Von Karman on the first day, it could land in the alternative area on the second day.

The landing was also greeted by Nasa administrator Jim Brindestine.

The craft, which is 5 feet long and about 3.3 feet wide and tall, made its final descent from a landing orbit 9.3 miles above the moon's surface.

Chang'e 4 could also contribute to radio astronomy. But China got around this by launching a satellite last May that acts as a relay between the lander and Earth.

Landing on the unexplored region will enable Chang'e-4's rover to better study the moon because of the lack of electromagnetic interference from Earth.

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