Thu. Dec 1st, 2022
China has released this image of the lunar surface taken by the Chang'e-4 spacecraft.
enlarge / China has released this image of the lunar surface taken by the Chang’e-4 spacecraft.


The China National Space Administration declared late Monday that the Chang’e-4 lander had crashed safely on the far side of the moon. No spacecraft has ever made a soft landing there.

According to state media, a control center in Beijing ordered the spacecraft to begin landing procedure at 9:15 p.m. ET Monday (10:15 a.m., Tuesday, local time), from an altitude of 15 km above the lunar surface. During an 11-minute descent, Chang’e-4 slowed its speed from 1.7 km/s to nearly zero before landing in the Von Karman crater in the South Pole-Aitken Basin. This is in the mid-southern latitudes of the moon on the other side; it should provide important scientific information about Earth and the early solar system.

The 1.2-ton lander is made from backup components from the Chang’e-3 mission, which was landed five years ago by the Chinese space program on Mare Imbrium on the near side of the moon. Shortly after landing, Chang’e-4 sent back a photo of the lunar surface via a lunar orbit relay satellite called Queqiao, meaning Magpie Bridge.

Soon – if it hasn’t already – the lander will deploy a rover named Yutu II (Jade Rabbit II). The 140 kg rover will collect high-resolution images and Chinese scientists designed it to study the lunar surface and the area just below the surface, as well as the radiation environment on the far side of the moon.

Big first step

This landing marks an important step in space for China. This represents a true “first” as no country has ever reached the far side of the moon where there is no direct communication with Earth. In addition, the data collected by Chang’e-4 and the Yutu II rover will inform China’s lunar exploration program, which aims to send taikonauts to the lunar surface by 2030.

Shortly after landing, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine noted the performance of the Chinese space agency on Twitter: “Congratulations to the Chinese 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 achievement!”

The success of the Chinese agency comes because NASA is still not allowed to cooperate with China on spaceflight activities. This block was set up by former US Representative Frank Wolf and supported through the credit process by Representative John Culberson. Both men are now out of office, so there is a chance that the ban will be reviewed. Nevertheless, there are major concerns about technology transfer as part of any partnership with China.

It is also noteworthy that China’s state news service did not broadcast Monday night’s landing attempt live. Many of land-based launches — and more difficult space endeavors — are only reported after the fact, when they’re successful. This mirrors the Soviet approach to the space race in the 1960s, when much of their spaceflight activities were covert, while NASA did its successes and failures in real time.

This may bolster the concerns of some lunar scientists and space experts, who warn that if we want to see the moon evolve under Western standards of freedom and openness, NASA and US companies can better manage the moon’s return and development in the near future. decade.

By akfire1

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