Dec 07, 2018 08:06 PM

Chart of the Day: China's World-First Moonshot

Chang’e 4, China’s fourth lunar exploration mission, will launch this month. If it is successful it will be the first time in history that humans have landed a lunar probe on the far side of the moon.

According to a previous report from the state-run Xinhua News Agency, the Chang’e 4 will land in the South Pole-Aitken basin — an impact crater on the far side of the moon which is thought to be its largest, oldest and deepest feature.

After touchdown, a rover carried by the robotic lander will begin to explore the area and collect data, taking photos and testing for radiation. Using a tool called a Very Low Frequency interferometer it will study the universe at extremely low wavelengths while the moon shields it from Earth's radio noise. It will also use advanced lunar-penetrating radar to perform the first ever geologic cross-section of the moon’s far side, according to state-run newspaper the China Daily.

China launched a relay satellite called Queqiao (Magpie Bridge) on May 21, which entered orbit around 65,000 kilometers (40,300 miles) from the moon on June 14. It will serve as a communicator for the Chang’e 4, relaying signals back to Earth.

Chinese officials have revealed few precise details about the historic launch and there has been no official announcement of its date and time, but Forbes has it slated for Dec. 8, with a probable touchdown on the lunar surface on Dec. 31.

China also plans to land on and explore the southern and northern polar regions of the moon by 2030 and set up a lunar scientific research station, an official from the China National Space Administration told the China Daily.

The Chang’e missions are named after a Chinese goddess who legend has it escaped Earth and flew to the moon.


Contact reporter Gao Baiyu (
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