The first images of the hidden face of the moon captured by the probe ‘ Chang’e 4 ‘
The success of the mission is one step further in the ambitious space program of the Asian country
China has achieved for the first time in history posing a ship in the hidden face of the moon. The Chang’e 4 probe, which was launched on December 8, touched the satellite floor on Thursday at 10.26 local time, according to China’s National Space Administration. The success of the landing, which was not officially announced until about two hours after it was produced, is one more milestone for Asia’s ambitious space program, even far from the United States in financing but become a Absolute priority for the Chinese authorities.
The unmanned spacecraft had already entered elliptical lunar orbit last Sunday, with the closest point to the Astro about 15 kilometres from its surface and furthest to about 100 kilometres, according to China’s National Space Administration. Since then the ideal moment was sought to bring the probe to the lunar surface, because the not visible part of the Astro has periods of day and night that last about 14 days terrestrial and it was necessary the solar light so that both the module of landing and the mobile vehicle of Scan will work as planned.
Meanwhile, the engineers verified the proper functioning of the probe and the satellite Queqiao, which serves as a link to communicate this vehicle explorer with the Earth. The fact that communication with the probe cannot be direct — the moon’s own mass prevents it — is one of the main technical obstacles to the mission. Finally the probe touched surface without problems in the crater Von Kárman, 186 kilometers in diameter, located in the Aitken Basin (at the South Pole), which in turn is one of the largest known impact craters in the solar system and one of the oldest of the moon. “A new chapter has been opened in lunar exploration by man ” said the Chinese space Agency in a statement.
The main objective of the Chang’e 4 probe is to analyze the composition of the terrain and the relief of the area, which could give clues about the origins and evolution of the satellite. That lunar face, invisible from the Earth, is very different from the one we know. If the face view shows plain basalt seas and relatively few craters, the other side is full of these and their composition seems different. The Chinese mission could collect data on the evolution and geology of this unknown area of the satellite.
The Chinese ship has thus completed a new milestone in space exploration, which this week has witnessed two other achievements. NASA’s Osiris-Rex probe descended to the Bennu asteroid and orbited it just a kilometer and a half from the surface. This complicated manoeuvre depends on the microgravity exerted by the rock, only 500 meters in diameter.
The year began with the passage of another American probe — New Horizons — along with Ultima Thule, the furthest body in the Solar system that has ever been visited.
The new lunar exploration race involves the world’s six space agencies (the United States, Russia, Europe, Japan, China, and India). Almost half a century ago, the Apollo missions put Neil Armstrong on the surface of our satellite. The samples obtained are a scientific treasure to understand the origin of the solar system and the general principles of the formation of the planets.
Chang’e 4 takes the name in honor of a goddess who, according to Chinese mythology, lives on the moon. After the landing is planned to deploy an exploration vehicle that will begin to traverse this unknown lunar landscape and transmit data to clarify some of the main questions on the hidden face of the satellite.