China’s Chang’e-4 lunar probe is ready to land on the far side of the moon, and this mission will be a pioneering look at a region that is hidden from the Earth’s view. Yes, even messages cannot be relayed easily from that distant area, but this Chinese robot will make its way to the surface some time over the next day. The lander was officially launched at the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in southern China on December 8 on a Long March 3B rocket and entered lunar orbit four days later. Read more for another video and additional information.
A soft-landing on the far side is challenging because any direct communication between the rover and Earth will be blocked by the other hemisphere. To fix that, China also launched a relay satellite, Queqiao, or Magpie Bridge, between Earth and the moon that operates about 250,000 miles from Earth. Queqiao will transmit signals to the lunar lander and rover of Chang’e 4.
“The administration said Chang’e 4’s scientific tasks included astronomical observation using low-frequency radio, surveying the terrain and landforms, detecting the mineral composition and shallow lunar surface structure, and measuring neutron radiation and neutral atoms, to build up an understanding of the environment on the moon’s far side,” reports SCMP.