Chinese Rover Shares First Photo Of The Far Side Of The Moon
China has sent two robots to the moon! The term ‘Over the moon’ has a new meaning now because no human has ever been to the far side. Despite several pop culture references, it isn’t actually dark. And we know that because the rovers are now sending us images!
What is Far Side Of The Moon?
For the uninitiated, we only see one side of the moon from earth. This side is called the near side. This is because the moon takes roughly the same time to orbit the Earth as it takes to spin around it’s axis. It is the first time that a rocket has landed on the far side as well. However, it isn’t the first time that the far side has been photographed. Luna 3, a Soviet spacecraft did photograph the far side of the Moon in 1959. Sometimes the far side is referred to as the dark side because we know very little about that area, hence the term ‘dark’. The problem with sending machines to the dark side is that it is so far away that it becomes extremely difficult to communicate with the robots.
China has overcome this problem by sending a satellite named Queqiao, which communicates with the rover and relays information to and from the rover back to earth. China has sent a rover along with a lander as part of Chang’e-4 mission. The robotic lander and rover is called Yutu-2. The rover and lander was launched 7 December 2018 and entered orbit around the Moon on 12 December 2018. It landed at 10:26AM Thursday, Beijing time.
Lunar rover of Chang'e 4 probe given the name 'Yutu 2' pic.twitter.com/lUw2CcSNBK— CGTN (@CGTNOfficial) January 4, 2019
The photos that it has sent shows a barren, desert-like surface with craters. The mission of the rover and lander, apart from documenting the area, also involves scientific research as well. It will be studying the geophysics of the landing zone, researching solar bursts, gather radiation dosimetry for future human exploration of the Moon among other important things. However, the most important payload it carries is a 3 kg sealed “biosphere” with seeds and insect eggs to test whether plants and insects could hatch and grow. If successful, this might mean that there is a bright future for humankind’s survival on this barren satellite.