What’s Behind The Chinese Mission To Land On The Far Side Of The Moon?
When we first landed on the moon in the 1960s, our technological limits prevented us from really researching our natural satellite. While the United States wishes to go back to their previous site and study it further, China has announced plans to do something a little different than just poking the same dirt.
In 2019, the People’s Republic of China has plans to little-mentioned part of the moon. The country plans on conducting a mission to investigate the far side of the moon. The spacecraft, Chang’e-4, a lander complete with its own rover, is set to launch on December 8th from a satellite center located in the Sichuan province.
The China National Space Administration hopes to investigate if plants grow in a low-gravity environment like the moon’s surface. They also plan to conduct ‘radio astronomy’ experiments. Radio astronomy is “the study of celestial objects that emit radio waves.”
“This mission is definitely a significant and important accomplishment in lunar exploration,” stated Carolyn van der Bogert, a planetary geologist from Munster, Germany.
All these experiments are well and good, but what’s the end goal? According to the CNSA, they wish to create a ‘moon base’ in order to establish a permanent human presence.
The agency has also released few details regarding Chang’e-4’s mission, but there is speculation that its landing site may be a crater known as Von Karman.
“It is a key area to answer several important questions about the early history of the Moon, including its internal structure and thermal evolution,” said Bo Wu, a bioinformatician from Hong Kong.
The problem with landing on the far side of the moon is that it will be impossible to maintain direct contact with the rover. A satellite called Queqiao was launched previously to act as a relay between the lander and Earth.
With the technology we have now, taking up residence on the moon is closer to being reality. But it will not be easy.
“When we take the step towards long-term human habitation on the Moon or Mars, we will need greenhouse facilities to support us, and will need to live in something like a biosphere,” said Anna-Lisa Paul of the University of Florida in Gainesville.