A Lander Is Headed to The Far Side of The Moon

It's Official: A Lander Is Headed to The Far Side of The Moon

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China has launched a lunar rover on a historic mission to explore the dark side of the moon, with the potential to make revolutionary discoveries about the possibility of extraplanetary life.

#BREAKING: China launches Chang'e-4 lunar probe in the early hours of Saturday.

The blast-off marked the start of a long journey to the far side of the moon for the Chang´e-4 mission, expected to land around the New Year to carry out experiments and survey the untrodden terrain.

China landed its Yutu, or "Jade Rabbit", rover on the moon five years ago and plans to send its Chang'e 5 probe there next year and have it return to Earth with samples - the first time that will have been done since 1976. A Long March-3B rocket, carrying the probe including a lander and a rover, blasted off from Xichang at 2:23 a.m., opening a new chapter in lunar exploration. It's mission will be to explore the composition of the lunar surface.

To facilitate communication between controllers on Earth and the Chang'e 4 mission, China in May launched a relay satellite named Queqiao, or "Magpie Bridge", after an ancient Chinese folk tale.

Beijing is pouring billions into its military-run space programme, with hopes of having a crewed space station by 2022, and of eventually sending humans to the moon.

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The Chang'e-4 mission will be a key step in revealing the mysterious far side of the moon.

"The main thing about this mission is not science, this is a technology mission", he said. The moon's far side is also known as the dark side because it faces away from Earth and remains comparatively unknown. During the lunar day, also lasting 14 earth days, temperatures soar as high as 127 C (261 F).

Instruments must withstand those fluctuations and generate enough energy to sustain it during the long night.

China has promoted global cooperation in its lunar exploration program, with four scientific payloads of the Chang'e-4 mission developed by scientists from Netherlands, Germany, Sweden and Saudi Arabia. It is planning to launch construction of its own manned space station next year.

It's also carrying a 3 kg (6.6 lb) container of seeds and silkworm larvae to study whether they can grow on the surface of the Moon - an experiment that could have long-term implications for a lunar colony.

The project, he said in an interview with local website Netease, "greatly inspires everyone´s national pride and self-confidence".

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