China’s probe sheds light on the dark side of the Moon
The Chang’e – 4, China’s lunar probe, made the successful “soft-landing” yesterday, on the dark-side (far-side) of the Moon, the China National Space Administration said. They celebrated this event as the historic first and as a major achievement for China’s space program.
What is dark side of the moon?
The phrase ” dark side of the moon” doesn’t refer to the absence of light, the “dark” here refers to unknown: the side of moon which remains unknown to human until the USSR lunar probe, Luna 3 took the first image of far side of the Moon in October 7,1959.
Humans failed to reveal the far side of the moon without the help of a an artificial satellite because the rotation of the moon on its axis is about the same time as it takes to orbit the earth. This phenomenon is called Tidal Locking or Gravitational locking.
If the Moon were not rotating at all, it would alternately show its near and far sides to Earth, while moving around Earth in orbit, as shown in the right figure.
Image credit: Stigmatella aurantiaca
Due to tidal locking, an observer from earth will never be able to see the area of Moon, colored green.
Image credit: Smurrayinchester
A Potential leap in Space Exploration
Chang’e – 4 touched down at a targeted area in the Von Karman Carter near the south pole moon is indeed an important milestone in China’s space exploration. It has a lander and a rover and is designed to perform astronomical observation, surveying the moon’s terrain, landforms and mineral makeup, and measuring the neutron radiation and neutral atoms to study the environment of its far side.
The probe also contains cotton, rapeseed, potato, arabidopsis, fruit fly and yeast – to the lifeless environment to form a mini biosphere
China made it first successful “soft-landing” on December, 2013 using its lunar probe Chang’e – 3.
Updated: 16 January 2018
The cotton seed carried by this probe got sprouted, making it the first ever mini biosphere experiment on moon. The images sent back by the probe showed that the cotton sprout is grown well, reported the news agency, Xinhua.
Article by M R Raghul
Source: Xinhua News Agency