January 3, 2019
Step aside Pink Floyd…
Five years after successfully landing its first rover on the moon, China’s space program took another giant leap forward on Thursday when it became the first to successfully land a lunar probe on the dark side of the moon (the side of the celestial body that perpetually faces away from the Earth).
According to Bloomberg, the Chang’e-4 lunar probe, named after the mythical Moon Goddess, landed at 10:26 am in Beijing and started transmitting the first pictures of the dark side of the moon’s surface. The probe had been circling the moon in an elliptical orbit since Sunday, after leaving the Xichang Satellite Launch Center on Dec. 8.
— China Xinhua News (@XHNews) January 3, 2019
The landing marks the capstone of China’s plan to establish itself as one of the world’s top three aerospace powers by 2030. With a budget of $8 billion, China is second only to the US in terms of space-program spending. Furthermore, the landing is a moment of national pride during a turbulent time when China’s economy is faltering amid a trade war with the US and burgeoning bad debts in the country’s corporate sector.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine congratulated China on the accomplishment.
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! pic.twitter.com/JfcBVsjRC8
— Jim Bridenstine (@JimBridenstine) January 3, 2019
Because of the lack of electromagnetic interference on the dark side of the moon, the Chang’e-4 will be able to use low-frequency radio spectrometry to help scientists understand “how the earliest…