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This weekend, China begins on a historic mission to land on the many sides

Early Saturday morning in China, a rocket launches, carrying a farmer and a rover bound to the moon. It will…

Early Saturday morning in China, a rocket launches, carrying a farmer and a rover bound to the moon. It will mark the beginning of China’s ambitious moon mission called Chang & # 39; e-4, which will try to land spacecraft on the Moon’s long-sided region that always turns away from the earth. No other nation has ever tried such an achievement – which means that the mission would catapult China into space flow history.

So far China has been among an elite group of three countries that have landed a spacecraft soft on the Moon’s surface. Apart from America’s remarkable Apollo missions, the former Soviet Union also landed robotic ships on the moon surface, with the last mission that took place in 1

976. In 2013, China entered the fray and set a lander and a robber on the moon. The mission, called Chang ‘e-3, was part of a decade-long campaign that China thought to study the moon with robot spacecraft. Before Chang 3, the country had set a spacecraft on the moon and had also crashed a vehicle in the moon’s dirt. Now the next step is to visit part of the moon that has never been fully explored.

It’s an important step to land on the other side The moon is an incredibly challenging task. The moon is temporarily locked with the ground, which means it rotates around its axis about the same time as necessary to complete an entire path around our planet. The result: we only see half of the moon all the time. This close side of the moon is the only region we landed carefully because there is a direct point of view with the earth, allowing for easier communication with ground control. To land on far side of the moon, you need to have multiple spacecraft working in tandem. In addition to the landlord itself, you need a kind of probe close to the moon that can convey communication from your landlord to the ground.

And that’s exactly what China has. In May, China launched the National Space Administration a satellite called Queqiao, specifically to help communicate for the forthcoming Chang 4 mission. After about a month in space, Queqiao settled in a position facing the far side of the Moon, more than 37,000 miles away from the moon surface. The satellite makes circles around a point in space called the second Earth-Moon Lagrange point. It’s a place like a spacecraft parking lot. At the Lagrange point, the gravity forces of two bodies (stars, planets, etc) correspond in such a way that a spacecraft stops in relation to the two units. At this lagrange point, Queqiao will lie to the far side of the Moon, enabling communication between spacecraft and ground with a large curved antenna.

“Demonstrate that you can communicate and perform roving on the versatile using a relay satellite will be quite technical, and it will give much prestige,” said Andrew Jones, a freelance journalist covering China’s spacecraft program, telling The Verge .


 A long March 4C rocket launcher from the southwest Xichang launch center carrying Queqiao (

A long March 4C rocket launcher from the southwest Xichang launch center carrying the satellite-based Queqiao (“Magpie Bridge”) in Xichang, China’s southwest Sichuan province on May 21, 2018. Photo of AFP / Getty Images

If everything works, China will get an idea of ​​one of the most tantalizing areas of the moon surface: South Pole-Aitken Basin. Believes that Chang & # 4; landers and robbers will move down to the Von Kármán crater in this region, according to Jones, although the exact landing site has not been confirmed. South Pole-Aitk The one-pond is a large multi-sided crater, which is approximately 1 500 miles in diameter and 7.5 miles deep. It is believed to be one of the oldest effects on the moon surface, but we do not know exactly how old it is – and its true age could tell researchers much about the early solar system. [19659011] “The South Pole-Aitken Basin is extremely important.”

Most of the craters on the moon are believed to have formed about 3.9 billion years ago based on analysis of the moonlight collected during NASA’s Apollo mission. Many researchers believe that these holes occurred during a period of the solar system called the severe bombardment – a period when a large number of asteroids entered the inner planets. It is believed that this time occurred after most of the planets in our cosmic neighborhood were formed, why it is considered “late” in our solar system’s development. If the South Pole-Aitken basin is also 3.9 billion years old, it supports the idea that this bombing occurred. If it’s much older than that, put it a word in that theory. “This really helps us understand not only the moon but the entire solar system,” says Clive Neal, Professor of Engineering at the University of Notre Dame and Emeritus Chairman of the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group, or LEAG, The Verge . “That’s why it’s important, it’s bigger than the moon.”

Because of its potential to tell us about our history, the South Pole-Aitken Basin has long been a priority target for study. Researchers have suggested sending spacecraft to this region to collect samples and return them to the ground for deep analysis. “The South Pole-Aitken Basin is extremely important, and we have still not done it because it’s too difficult,” Neal says.


South Pole-Aitken Basin on the Moon Image: NASA / GSFC / University of Arizona

Unfortunately, Chang will not return anything to the ground, so it probably will not be able to tell us about the exact age of the pool. But it should learn some interesting chats. The Chang 4-rover will carry ground-penetrating radar to find out how the Moon’s structure is below the surface of the basin, which could tell us more about how this area was formed. It will also have an instrument designed to find out what the surface is made of in this region. And it has a Swedish instrument designed to find out how particles flowing from the sun interact with the moonlight.

At the same time, the landlord, whose task is to carry the rover to the Moon’s surface, to make science from landing space, take advantage of its place on the moon. Because these vehicles will be on the long side of the moon, they will be protected from a lot of electromagnetic interference from the ground and do not have to handle our planet’s atmosphere. Landers will study the space environment and the universe at low frequencies – something we can not do from our planet.

And of course, both landers and robbers will carry cameras to take detailed images of the moon surface, like Chang’s e-4’s forerunner, Chang & # 39; e-3, did. Much of the Chang’s e-4 design is modeled after Chang & # 39; e-3, landing on the Moon’s front page, and telling researchers a lot about an area called the Imbrium basin. Hopefully, Chang’s e-4’s rover will move beyond rover on Chang 3, called Yutu, which stopped traveling after about a month.

Still, Chang’s e-4 is just unique. a step in the steps of China’s decade Chang mission plan (Chang is a goddess of the moon in Chinese mythology). Following this mission, China is planning to launch another robot mission to the moon next year, called Chang, which is designed to return samples from the Moon’s next page. If it succeeds, it will be the first time the moon mass has returned to Earth since 1976. In addition Neal thinks that a test return from the Moon’s far side is on the horizon. “Chang & # 39; e-4 is a first step, and I’m sure it will raise more questions than it answers,” Neal says. “But showing the opportunity is to land on the other side and robber, telling us what’s next step, and as I say, robot testing would be the logical next step.”


A rendering of Chang & # 39; e-4 rover Image: Chinese Academy of Sciences

In the more distant future, China may hope to put people on the moon, even though it has not been open to plans. Jones says it appears that China is working towards crew, by developing a new major launcher and concept for a rocket that can carry people. “There is no official state-approved plan to put Chinese astronauts on the moon, but you can see that they are working on the various components you need,” he says.

All human missions are still years gone, and for now China is focusing on Chang’s e-4. But as is the case with many of China’s missions, the details of this flight have been difficult to get away from. We know that the mission will be launched on top of one of China’s Long Mars 3B rockets from the country’s Xichang Satellite Launch Center. And thanks to air traffic announcements, the start time is estimated at about. 13.30 ET Friday, December 7th. China can only announce that the mission was a success after the spacecraft is on its way to the moon, but Jones says we might have heard earlier than that from other sources.

“It may be that the first indication we are launching is that any bad soul near the Xichang launch center is awake and thinks there is an earthquake and complaining about it on social media.” Jones says.

If Chang’s e-4 makes it into space, it will spend less than a month traveling to the moon, which is likely to touch down sometime during the first week of January. If that happens, China will officially move into its own elite group, because the only country to visit the moon side we can not see from the earth.

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