For the first time in the history of mankind, a space probe landed on the hidden face of the Earth’s natural satellite, the Moon. The credit went to China’s Chang’e 4 probe, which landed on the moon at 02:26 GMT on Thursday, January 3 of this year.
The National Space Administration of China, ANEC, said that the moon landing was carried out as planned by the team, in the Aitken basin, located at the south pole of the Earth’s satellite.
The probe has several missions to accomplish: among them are astronomical observation with low-frequency radio and measurements of the radiation of neutral atoms and neutrons.
Analyses of the terrain and its relief and detection of the mineral composition and structure of the shallower part of the lunar surface will also be performed. These studies are intended to explore the environment of the hidden face of the moon.
On December 8, the Chang’e space probe was launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, located in southeast China’s Sichuan province.
On December 12, the probe, which is composed of a module and a rover, entered lunar orbit. After this, ANEC trimmed the probe’s orbit twice.
In order to perform communications between the probe and the Earth, the Queqiao satellite is used. It was put into orbit in May last year and its function is to operate as a sort of mirror between the ground control center and the lunar probe.
The Moon blocks communications: the Moon is positioned between the probe and the Earth. This is why it is necessary to use a device such as this satellite mirror. In fact, precisely the hidden face of the Moon is not observable from the Earth because the Moon rotates around itself at the same time that it performs its translational motion around the Earth.
Who was Chang’e?
The Asian nation’s program was named Chang’e after an ancient Chinese moon goddess. Legend has it that this deity lived on the moon. Some versions of the legend tell that he inhabited the Moon together with the company of a jade rabbit that was dedicated to preparing elixirs.
What is certain is that the Asian nation has succeeded in placing a probe on the mysterious hidden face of the Moon and to make the event more special, it has used its ancient and rich mythology to name the team that accomplished the feat.
Previously, it had been possible to photograph the hidden face of the satellite, but not to land on it. However, not all is said and done with the Chang’e program: its ultimate goal is to launch a manned mission to the Moon. although this is not yet dated, some rumors place the lunar expedition for 2036. Will we get to see it? Only time will tell.
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