China Prepares Mission to Land Spacecraft on Moon's Far Side

China set to launch the first ever rover to Moons far side

"When we take the step towards long-term human habitation on the Moon or Mars, we will need greenhouse facilities to support us, and will need to live in something like a biosphere", Anna-Lisa Paul, a horticultural scientist at the University of Florida, told Scientific American.

Sources including journalist Andrew Jones, who covers China's space program, report that the launch is now set for around 1:20 p.m. ET Friday from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China using a Long March 3B rocket. Both the Chang'e-4 spacecraft and lunar rover the spaceship would deploy will not be able to communicate with the Earth directly.

Tomorrow, at about 1:30 p.m. EST (2:30 a.m. on December 8 local time), China's robotic Chang'e-4 mission will launch on a Long March 3B rocket, headed for the lunar surface.

China's robotic Chang'e 4 spacecraft streaked away from Earth today (Dec. 7), launching atop a Long March 3B rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center at about 1:23 p.m. EST (1823 GMT; 2:23 a.m. on December 8 local China time).

Chang'e 4 is set to land near the moon's South Pole, from where it can begin its exploration. "The landing area, the South Pole-Aitken basin, is the oldest basin on the moon, meaning that we could get first-hand information about the distant past of the moon".

The spacecraft's signals will likely be coming from the floor of Von Kármán Crater, a 115-mile-wide (186 kilometers) hole in the ground that's the mission's expected landing site. Communicating with a far-side lander or rover is hard, because the entirety of the moon's solid, rocky body would block direct signals traveling to and fro.

The mission is part of a larger Chinese programme of lunar exploration.

Chang'e 4 features a total of eight scientific instruments. The spacecraft will be carrying a lander and a rover, that is said to touch down the surface on the lunar surface. For example, the LFS will return data about surface composition, while the LPR will tease out the layered structure of the moon's subsurface. There are also few of the "mare" - dark basaltic "seas" created by lava flows - that are evident on the near side. Part of Chang'e-4's mission is to use the masking effect of the Moon's bulk to block out radio "noise" and listen for interstellar signals.

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Additionally, according to a story by Xinhua, China's state-run news agency, the mission will also include a biological investigation consisting of a tin full of seeds.

The rover of Chang'e 4 will land on the moon in about two weeks' time.

The nation launched the Chang'e 1 and Chang'e 2 spacecraft to lunar orbit in 2007 and 2010, respectively.

One reason no attempt has ever been made to visit the distant side of the moon is that the lack of a line of sight makes direct communications with a spacecraft hard.

This mission will be followed by Chang'e 5 and 6, which will attempt to collect lunar samples and bring them back to Earth. Chang'e-3, launched in 2013, and its rover Yutu, or Jade Rabbit, surveyed the moon's geology and natural resources after a soft landing.

And then there's the crewed side of things.

China conducted its first crewed space mission in 2003, making it only the third country after Russian Federation and the U.S.to do so.

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