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Shining a Light
The “dark side” – or far side – of the moon always faces away from Earth, but China might now shed more light on the mysterious hemisphere.
Last week, China successfully landed its Chang’e 4 space probe on the moon’s far side and launched its rover to begin the first surface exploration of the largely unseen landscape, the Guardian reported.
Scientists praised the mission as a technical feat, with project chief designer Wu Weiren declaring it “a small step for the rover, but one giant leap for the Chinese nation.”
Experiments planned for the Chang’e probe – named after the Chinese moon goddess – could reveal new clues about the cataclysmic event that created Earth’s satellite and explain the presence of water in lunar soil.
Referring to the moon’s far side as “dark” doesn’t mean that the sun never shines on it. Rather, it remains permanently unseen from the Earth because of the synchronous timing of the moon’s rotation on its axis and its orbit of the Earth.
Chinese researchers hope to use the far side of the moon to monitorradio waves from deep space that are difficult to detect on Earth due to electromagnetic interference from human activity.
Lastly, colonization dreams are also part of its mission. The spacecraft is carrying a mini-greenhouse to test how well plants grow on the moon’s surface.
Soon they’ll be growing “moon cabbage.”