BEIJING – China is planning to explore the dark side of the Moon by 2018, as it was confirmed by the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense. The Chang’e-4 spacecraft is going to be launched to explore areas of the natural satellite that cannot be seen by humans from Earth.

Lunar exploration chief Liu Jizhong said the spacecraft will make a soft landing on the mysterious far side of the moon, to analyze geological conditions of its surface. He added that the mission represents a relevant advance in the field of lunar exploration, since it will name China as the first country to reach the unknown side of the moon that was photographed by a Soviet Union probe in 1959.

The far side of the moon. Photo: Space
The far side of the moon. Photo: Space

“There has been no surface exploration of the far side. It is very different to the near side because of the biggest hole in the solar system – the South Pole-Aitken basin, which may have exposed mantle materials – and the thicker lunar crust. I am sure the international lunar science community will be very excited about this mission. know I am,” said Clive Neal, chair of the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group, to AFP.

It was reported by AFP that science official Qian Yan said encouraging words in a statement when referring to the “pride” of the public and the “national strength” related to space achievements.

Chang’e-4 is similar to Chang’e-3, which was already landed on the Moon. However, the spacecraft that will reach the far side of the moon can transport a bigger payload than its antecessor. Also, China is developing a Chang’e-5, which will be able to get close to the moon even without a site to land –and it will try to get samples of the moon to bring them to Earth.

The investment dedicated to special research that China is making is huge. On Friday, physicist Pan Jian-Wei explained that the country is trying to establish a quantum communication system between Earth and Space. In other words, scientists will investigate if they can teleport information using photons.

Last year, it was announced that China and the United states created a hotline between Washington and Beijing to communicate in order to avoid international conflict in case a space crisis occurs. In 2007, China tested a new anti-satellite weapon system, and blown a satellite into ashes. That being said, countries are taking actions to have spatial defense systems.

The end of the second decade of the 2000’s is going to be great for space development and space research, since the first private companies will launch rockets to the moon. Last year, it was confirmed by Google that several rockets are going to be launched as part of the Google Prize in 2017, which seeks to carry rovers to the moon to transmit videos and high definition images.

Other companies have said that the moon will be the eighth continent. Moon Express, a private company that wants to send a spacecraft to the moon said that rare elements from the satellite such as platinum group metals, Helium-3 and Moon rocks can be mined.

“We believe it’s critical for humanity to become a multi-world species and that our sister world, the Moon, is an eighth continent holding vast resources than can help us enrich and secure our future. The Moon is unique in that its surface has remained relatively constant over billions of years,” wrote Moon Express in its official webpage.

Source: Reuters