Understand what the far side of the moon is, the area China is exploring

Understand what the far side of the moon is, the area China is exploring
Image: reproduction

Chinese space mission plans to collect samples from the “far side of the moon”

Last week, China achieved a new milestone by launching an unmanned spacecraft on a nearly two-month mission to recover rocks and soil from the “far side” of the Moon. The “Long March-5” rocket, the country's largest rocket, took off from the Wenchang Space Launch Center on Hainan Island, carrying the “Chang'e-6” probe, which weighs more than 8 tons.

The “far side” of the Moon is so named because it is not visible from Earth. This is caused by a phenomenon called synchronous rotation, where the Moon takes the same amount of time to rotate around its axis as it does around the Earth, resulting in one side always facing us and the other permanently hidden. Therefore, from Earth's point of view, this side remains “hidden” or “dark”, although it is still illuminated by the Sun in the same way as the visible side.

This is not the first time that China has dazzled the world with its space achievements. In 2018, the Chang'e-4 probe made the first successful unmanned landing on the “far side” of the Moon, while in 2020, the Chang'e-5 witnessed the return of the first lunar samples in 44 years.

Samples recovered by the Chang'e-6 probe could help scientists conduct a deeper analysis of the evolution of the Moon and the solar system itself. The spacecraft was tasked with landing in the Antarctic-Aitken Basin.

This innovative mission, named after the Chinese goddess of the moon, and weighing about 8,200 kilograms, will spend 53 days in space, and aims to collect geological samples.

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“Chang’e-6 aims to achieve breakthroughs in the design and control technology of the lunar retro-orbit, intelligent sampling, take-off and ascent technologies, and automatically return samples to the far side of the Moon,” said Ge Ping, deputy director of the Moon. Lunar Exploration and Space Engineering Center of the China National Space Administration (CNSA).

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About the Author: Osmond Blake

"Web geek. Wannabe thinker. Reader. Freelance travel evangelist. Pop culture aficionado. Certified music scholar."

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