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article imageChang'e 4 makes historic first landing on the moon's far side

By Karen Graham     Jan 3, 2019 in Science
China’s space program made history this morning when it's Chang’e 4 lunar spacecraft successfully touched down on the moon’s far side at 10:26 a.m. Beijing Time.
China Central Television (CCTV) reported the touchdown was made in the South Pole-Aitken Basin which is an impact crater. Official word was provided at 8 p.m. PT by CCTV.
According to Andrew Jones, a journalist reporting on the Chinese space program, Chang'e 4's descent required "laser ranging and optical cameras for navigation, velocity, and coarse hazard avoidance." Practically, this meant Chang'e 4 was on its own as it descended to the surface with its important scientific payload, on a side of the moon marked by rugged terrain.
The final descent came about from a landing orbit 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) above the moon's surface. State media reported the rover transmitted back the world's first close-range image of the far side of the moon. No other details were provided. After tweets by Chinese State-owned media outlets, China Daily and China Global Television Network made their way online. Twitter was abuzz... but the tweets were quickly deleted.
Regardless of how secretive the Chinese media may be about this accomplishment, it is a giant and historic landmark in space exploration. The area where the probe has landed faces away from earth, meaning it is free from radio frequencies.
This is the reason the Chinese Space Agency launched the Queqiao relay satellite into a halo orbit over the dark side of the moon in May.
The rover and the lander are equipped with a suite of instruments, including three cameras that will allow the Chinese space agency to study the geology of Von Kármán crater. The moon is the place to be in the year 2019. Several countries are planning on exploring Earth's only natural satellite.
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