Chinese Chang’e 4 Probe Sends 1st PHOTO of Moon’s ‘Mysterious’ Far Side
China’s Chang’e 4 space probe has relayed its first image of the far side of the moon back to Earth, revealing a rocky surface blemished by small potholes and what appears to be a large crater.
The history-making photograph marks the first time that a manmade craft has landed on the ‘dark side’ of the moon. The mission was complicated by the fact that its position and terrain block direct communication with Earth via radio signals. To solve this issue, the China launched a satellite in May 2018 which helped to relay information.
The photograph of the far side of the moon shows a barren, desert-like surface pockmarked by a crater. A hillier terrain is seen in the distance.
The probe isn’t there just to take snapshots, however: Chang’e 4 will perform several experiments while on the moon, including testing whether plants will grow in the low gravity environment, exploring the poles to find water or other resources, and observing the interaction between solar winds and the lunar surface.
In 1959, the Soviet probe Luna 3 was the first to snap photographs of the lunar far side, with its 18 photographs revealing one-third of the moon’s surface invisible from Earth.