China is on the mission to start a race and to be the first country to step on the far side of the moon. Chinese officials made an announcement about its most ambitious lunar exploration program to be achieved till 2018 on Tuesday. China said that it is planning to land the first probe ever on the dark side of the moon.
The news comes just a few months after two Chinese astronauts successfully spent 30 days aboard the country’s Tiangong 2 space station - the longest time Chinese astronauts have spent in orbit.
Chinese officials said, “To explore the vast cosmos, develop the space industry, and build China into a space power is a dream we pursue unremittingly.”
As part of Chinese Lunar Exploration Program, numerous space missions have been undertaken by China. The program incorporates lunar orbiters, landers, rovers and sample return spacecraft, launched using Long March rockets.
China’s lunar exploration chief, Liu Jizhong said, “The Chang'e-4's lander and rover will make a soft landing on the back side of the Moon, and will carry out in-place and patrolling surveys. The implementation of the Chang'e-4 mission has helped our country make the leap from following to leading in the field of lunar exploration.”
The space agency became the first ever to soft-land on the moon in more than 40 years when Chang’e-3 lander landed on the Moon back in 2013.
What is actually the far side of the moon?
The far side of the Moon is the hemisphere of the Moon that always faces away from Earth. The far side's terrain is rough, with a multitude of impact craters and relatively few flat lunar maria. It consists of one of the largest craters in the Solar System, the South Pole–Aitken basin. The dark side of the moon is referred to as dark in the sense of “unknown” rather than lack of light as both sides of the moon experience 2 weeks of sunlight followed by 2 weeks of night.
Only 18 percent of the surface of the Moon is visible from the Earth leaving 82 percent hidden due to libration. The Soviet Union's Luna 3 space probe photographed it in 1959. The first atlas of the far side was published in The Soviet Academy of Sciences in 1960.
In 1968, the Apollo 8 mission's astronauts became the first humans to view this region directly when they orbited the Moon. No human being has ever stood on the surface of the far side of the Moon till date.