Thursday January 03, 2019

China Completes Successful Soft Landing on the Far Side of the Moon

The Chang'e-4 team from China has successfully soft landed a combination lander-rover on the far side of the moon. Because the far side of the moon's view is blocked from Earth, a Queqiao relay satellite was launched in May 2018 to pass information from Chang'e-4 to Earth. The mission carried an international payload of instruments to measure various features found in the environment on the far side of the moon. The landing site used for the mission is the Von Karman crater which spans an area of 112 miles within the larger South Pole-Aitken impact basin. The South Pole-Aitken impact basin is over 1,553 miles wide and is known as the oldest feature on the moon. It is 6 times deeper than the Grand Canyon as its depths reach nearly 8 miles in some areas. This area is important for scientific study because it exposes the deepest parts of the lunar crust.

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"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!" NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said via Twitter Wednesday night, after word of the milestone began circulating on social media.