In a mission carried out by China
, a space craft landed on the dark side of the moon today. For the first time in history, a rover will be shedding some light into the workings of the moon’s far side that has been long shrouded in mystery. Chang’e 4 will shoot pictures of the side of the moon permanently turned away from Earth as well as examine its geology via radar and spectrometers. Also on board is a germination and hatching experiment that is aiming to find out if seeds will grow and egg will hatch in a controlled environment given the low gravity on the moon surface.
The mission has long been in the works – as NASA records show
. In May of 2018, China sent communication satellite Queqiao into space for the purpose of relaying a radio signal that would otherwise not reach the dark side, to the Chang’e 4 rover. Since 2007, China has sent spacecraft up towards the moon to prepare for the mission accomplished today. Chang’e 1 tested the technology responsible for getting a rover into space, Chang’e 2 surveyed the moon’s far side for a suitable landing spot and Chang’e 3 sent a test rover onto the moon. Another Chinese space flight is also planned for 2019. Mission Chang’e 5 is scheduled to collect rocks from the moon’s surface and return them to Earth. A test mission took place back in 2014. One of the long–term objectives of the return mission is the acquisition of valuable substances from the moon’s surface, like the extremely rare Helium–3, a potentially powerful fuel.
But other nations haven’t looked on idly while the relatively new Chinese space agency was making headway during the last decade and a half. Even though no other country managed a rover program, the USA, most notably, prooved the existence of small quantities of water at the moon’s south pole with a combined orbiter and impactor mission in 2009. The European Space Agency ESA, as well as the Japanese and Indian space agencies accomplished their own successful moon orbits. While the EU was testing a new solar–powered ion drive, the Indians managed a very first orbit and impactor mission for the country.