China Lands Chang'e 4 Spacecraft on Far Side of the Moon

China Lands Chang'e 4 Spacecraft on Far Side of the Moon
Photo Credit:Reuters/達志影像

What you need to know

The far side moon landing is the first such achievement in history.

China’s unmanned Chang’e 4 lunar explorer landed on the far side of the moon at 10:26 a.m. Beijing time on Thursday, Chinese state media said.

It is the first-ever attempt and landing on the moon’s far side, which faces away from Earth and is largely unexplored.

Chang’e 4 left for outer space on Dec. 8, carried by the Long March 3B rocket, according to the Associated Press. It arrived in lunar orbit on Dec. 12 before successfully landing today.

Credit: Twitter / CGTN
The Chang'e 4 spacecraft as depicted in Chinese state media.

Its mission involves performing low-frequency radio astronomy observations using a spectrometer and an exploration of the structure and mineral composition of the moon’s terrain, said the AP.

A satellite was previously launched to allow for communications support between the spacecraft and Earth.

The lunar landing marks a milestone in human space exploration and a notch in the belt of China’s growing space program. China landed the Chang’e 3 spacecraft on the moon’s surface in 2013, the first spacecraft to do so since the Soviet Union landed Luna 24 on the moon in 1976.

The last manned moon landing was the U.S. spacecraft Apollo 17 in 1972.

Despite the achievement, Chinese state media deleted tweets posted earlier today announcing the moon landing, stirring up speculation on Twitter, reported Quartz.

Caltech astronomer Ye Quanzhi told the BBC that, by landing on what is popularly known as the dark side of the moon, China had “attempted something that other space powers had not attempted before.”

Chang’e 4 is carrying equipment including a container with plant seeds and silkworm eggs to perform biological studies, several cameras, and a radar which will probe beneath the moon’s surface.

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