China Is The First To Land On The Dark Side Of The Moon


– [Announcer] For the
first time in history, a space mission has touched down on the far side of the moon. China’s Chang’e-4 probe
landed in the oldest and deepest basin on the moon’s surface, making the mission a
milestone for both China and space exploration as a whole. This isn’t the first time
China has landed on the moon. In 2013 Chang’e-3 successfully
touched down on Mare Imbrium, a huge lava plain on the moon’s surface. But until now, China has never explored the moon’s mysterious dark side. No one has. That’s actually why it’s
called the dark side. It’s not hidden from the sun,
it’s hidden from our view. That’s because the moon
is in what’s called synchronous rotation with the Earth, which means every time the
moon rotates once on its axis, it also completes one
orbit around the Earth. As a result, we see the same
face of the moon every night. In fact, we only got our
first glimpse of the far side in 1959, when the Soviet
Union’s Luna 3 took pictures as it flew by. And while we’ve had numerous landings on the near side of the moon, no one’s attempted to touch
down on the far side before, and for good reason. It’s impossible to communicate
with anything over there. Any signal would get blocked
by the rest of the moon. But China’s team has a solution. They launched a relay
satellite with a clear view of both Chang’e-4 and the Earth. And so far, the plan’s working. Here are the very first
images taken by Chang’e-4, the first in history ever
taken from the surface on the dark side of the moon. What’s more, you’re looking at the oldest, largest, and deepest basin the moon has. Chang’e-4 landed on Von Karman, a flat landscape that sits
inside South Pole-Aitken Basin. The basin is around
2,500 kilometers across. That’s about the distance
from New York to Dallas. And it’s a whopping eight kilometers deep. For comparison, the deepest
natural point on Earth, the Challenger Deep, is
nearly 11 kilometers deep. Next, the lander will release a rover that will explore the surrounding area. One of it’s tasks is to
study the composition of rocks and dirt in the basin. Since scientists believe
this is the oldest basin on the moon, learning what
it’s made of might help us understand how Earth’s only
moon formed and evolved. But that’s only one goal of the mission. Besides cameras and spectrometers, Chang’e-4 also brought along
potatoes and silkworm eggs. Researchers hope to test
how well plants can grow and eggs can hatch in
the moon’s low gravity. It’s the first mini
greenhouse to ever land on another world in our solar system, and might help prepare us for
space colonies in the future.

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