China Shoots for the Far Side of the Moon this Week

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4:32 PM HKT, Tue December 4, 2018 1 mins read

This Friday China will attempt a “spacefaring first” by launching the Chang’e-4 rover on a mission to land on the dark side of the moon (the actual moon this time, not Chengdu’s fake moon). Really hoping they bid it farewell to the strains of Pink Floyd, but we’ll see.

According to Science Mag, “Besides boasting rights, the Chang’e-4 lander and rover are expected to produce a host of new insights into the moon’s composition and history.” That’s because despite the first human eyes being laid on it back in 1968 as part of the Apollo 8 mission, the far side of the moon is still largely shrouded in mystery as far as us earth-dwellers are concerned.

Chang’e-4 will be tasked with carrying out a range of geological research, which scientists hope will give them new insight into the crust and composition of the moon’s “other” face. If all goes successfully, the technically challenging landing on the dark side of the moon will also mean China has achieved a feat never accomplished before.

The move comes as State media also reported that China’s Five-hundred-meter diameter Aperture Spherical Telescope (aka FAST, or 天眼 “Heavenly Eye”) in Guizhou will “begin the hunt for alien life from next year”. The country’s space industry — both government-sponsored and private — has grown enormously in the past decade.

In 2007, the launch of orbiter Chang-e-1 kicked off China’s Chang-e program of lunar exploration, a series that is appropriately named for “the Lady of the Moon” in traditional Chinese mythology, something you can read more about here:

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