Ah, the elusive far side of the Moon.
The far side of the Moon, sometimes poetically called the dark side of the Moon, is the part of the Earth’s Moon that faces away from our planet. Satellite images show that the area appears to be nothing but vast rugged train, adorned with impact craters and a few lunar maria. One of the most eye-catching pieces is the South Pole–Aitken basin, also known as one of the largest craters in the solar system.
Of the entire section, only 18 percent of the far side is visible from Earth thanks to libration or the apparent oscillation of the Moon. The remaining 82 percent was finally seen in 1959 after the Soviet Union’s Luna 3 space probe managed to photograph it.
Astronomers have entertained the prospect of installing a large radio telescope on the far side to study the area. But it looks like China is about to beat them to it. The Asian country is planning to venture to the area no man has ever gone before—and they look pretty determined to complete their mission before the year ends.
China to Launch Mission to the Far Side of the Moon
China wants to be the first man on the far side of the Moon.
If they succeed, they’ll achieve a feat no other country was ever able to complete. Over the years, there have been numerous missions sent to observe Earth’s natural satellite. In 1966, mankind sent the Luna 9, marking it the first spacecraft to achieve a controlled soft landing, while its successor, Luna 10, became the first to enter orbit.
A total of six missions landed men on the Moon, starting with Neil Armstrong‘s famous voyage that culminated with Apollo 11 landing in July 1969.
It goes without saying that man’s fascination with the moon has been steadfast, to say the least.
For 2018, China is looking to make history as the first country to place a lander on the far side of the Moon. They’re launching not one but two spacecraft later this year. One will serve as a lander and the other a communications satellite assigned to relay signals to and from Earth.
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The mission is known as Chang’e 4, named after the Chinese moon goddess. By landing on the far side of the Moon, China will surpass the historical accomplishments of the USA and the USSR. The first component of the Chang’e 4, a relay satellite, is scheduled to lift off in June 2018.