China’s Lunar Probe Is Ready to Explore the Moon’s Far Side (Reports).
China’s lunar probe, Chang’e-4, is set to explore the moon’s mysterious far side.
In early 2019, the Chinese civilian space program aims to land the lunar probe at Aitkin Basin, a big impact crater by the Moon’s south pole, NPR reported.
Even though China hasn’t shared the exact landing date, the Chang’e-4 probe will help scientists study this part of the moon, which we can’t see from our planet. The six-wheeled rover contains cameras and a ground-penetrating radar that can look below the moon’s lunar surface.
On Dec. 9, China launched the Chang’e-4 probe from the Sichuan-based Xichang Satellite Launch Center. It’s expected to make the first-ever soft landing on the far side of the moon, and provide more details on the location’s lunar soil components and terrain.
Once it reaches the moon’s far side, it will engage in low-frequency radio astronomical observation, conduct surveys of landforms, detect mineral composition, and measure neutron radiation.
Researchers are also excited to learn more about the Aitkin Basin and other areas of the moon’s far side. “The far side is actually much more primitive — it contains really ancient crust that dates back to the very, very early solar system,” Briony Horgan, a Purdue University planetary scientist, told NPR. “There are rocks all over the far side that are over four billion years old,” she adds. “We’re really excited to see what those look like, up close.”