World China holds breath as probe prepares to land on far side of moon

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  1. tom_mai78101

    tom_mai78101 The Helper Connoisseur / Ex-MineCraft Host Staff Member

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    A Chinese spacecraft could shortly become the first ever to land on the “far side” of the moon, in a milestone for human space exploration. The ChinaNational Space Administration (CNSA) is aiming to land the craft in the unexplored South Pole-Aitken basin, the largest, oldest, deepest, crater on the moon’s surface.

    Early reports of a successful landing by the robotic probe, Chang’e 4, ended in confusion after state-run media China Daily and CGTN deleted tweets celebrating a successful mission. China Daily’s tweet said: '“China’s Chang’e 4 landed on the moon’s far side, inaugurating a new chapter in mankind’s lunar exploration history.”

    At the weekend, the probe entered an elliptical path around the moon, drawing as close as 15km (9 miles) from the surface. China’s mission control has not confirmed a time for the touchdown attempt but reports in state-run media suggested it would be early Thursday morning UK time.

    Spacecraft have taken pictures of the moon’s far side before, but no lander has ever touched down there. If successful, Chang’e will mark a step towards China’s ambition to become a leading power in space exploration alongside the US and Russia.

    One technological hurdle in targeting the side of the moon that constantly faces away from Earth is that direct communication with the spacecraft is not possible. Instead messages to and from Chang’e 4 are being relayed by the Queqiao (Magpie Bridge) satellite, which is in a “halo orbit” on the other side of the moon.


    Read more here. (The Guardian UK)
     

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