Throughout human history the moon has been a main source of both awe and wonder. The moon has fueled the imaginations of night time skygazers for generations, and both mythology and religions that are still widely practiced today are highly influenced by this heavenly body. Yet there is so much that we still do not know about the moon, particularly the far-side of the moon that the sun never hits. The rock band Pink Floyd wrote a whole album about the Dark Side of the Moon, now there seems to be some new light shed on it.
China’s robotic combination lander-rover named Chang’e 4 touched down on the floor of the 115-mile-wide (186 kilometers) Von Kármán Crater at 10:26 a.m. Beijing time on Jan. 3, it was the first time in history an aircraft from Earth had landed on the far-side of the moon.
“Congratulations to China’s”
Chang’e 4 team for what appears to be a successful landing on the far side of the moon. This is a first for humanity and an impressive
accomplishment!” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said via Twitter the night of the landing.
The Chang’e-4 probe is the Chinese National Space Administration portion of a series of missions designed to explore the surface of the moon, which started in 2007 with the Chang’e-1 orbiter and was followed in 2010 by the Chang’e-2 orbiter, and the Chang’e-3 lander, which successfully touched down on the near side of the moon in 2013. A fifth mission, which is designed to land on the surface and return samples to Earth should arrive back on our planet by the end of 2019.
“Gaining confidence in far side landings opens ‘the other continent’ for full
exploration and sample return, and to a treasure trove of scientific targets and fundamental scientific results. Chang’e-4 is a total game-changer in terms of gaining access to ‘Luna Incognita’ and is akin to Columbus’ voyages to the New World,” said planetary scientist at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island James Head.