China Is Sending A Lunar Probe To Dark Side Of The Moon In 2018, Becoming The First Country To Accomplish A Soft Landing On The Far Side Of Our Natural Satellite

The dark side of the Moon was interesting to humans for a long time since it is always faced from the Earth. Legends said that an advanced alien culture is residing there. The legend was proven as, well, just a legend back in 1950’s and 1960’s when the Soviet Union and the US sent probes that made a series of detailed photos depicting the dark side of the Moon. The Soviets even published a detailed atlas of the dark side.

The dark side of the Moon is the home to one of the largest craters in our solar system, the South Pole-Aitken Basin. The crater was probably made by a foreign body (asteroid or a comet) that hit it a long time ago. The dark side of our natural satellite is also interesting because it can host a radio telescope that won’t be affected by radio transmissions emitted from the Earth.

Image Courtesy of NASA
Image Courtesy of NASA

Astronomers tried to convince governments to send a mission to the far side of the moon, which would place a radio telescope into one of the many craters found there, but their calls went unheard.

Now, it seems China is ready to send the first mission to the far side of the Moon. According to a White Paper recently published by the Chinese government, the Chinese space agency will launch the Chang’e-4 lunar probe in 2018. Mission goal is to “achieve mankind’s first soft landing on the far side of the moon, and conduct in situ and roving detection and relay communications at earth-moon L2 point.” L2 is the Lagrange point in the Earth-Moon system. It is unknown what exactly is the mission goal, aside from achieving the first ever soft landing on the dark side of the Moon.

NASA also has plans for a lunar mission. The mission should send a lander to the South Pole-Aitken Basin in order to collect samples that could give us info regarding the moon’s interior. Scientists believe that, since the far side is unaffected by solar winds from the Earth, it could contain large quantities of Helium-3, which could be used as a fuel for future fusion reactors.