Featured image: The Chang’e 4 Lander
The China National Space Administration (CNSA) has been on the news for the past few weeks for their successful historic mission to the far side of the Moon. It has been such a celebrated mission that it caught the interest of scientists worldwide who have expressed their joy on blogs and social media platforms.
So, today, I just feel that we should also celebrate this mission, however late it may seem. As even right now, the Chang’e 4 robots are still crawling the surface of the Moon.
China named the mission the Chang’e 4. The name “Chang’e” is that of a mythical lunar goddess, and the “4” indicates that this is the fourth robotic mission in China’s decade-long lunar space exploration program.
There have been other missions and the Chang’e-3, which is a nearly identical mission to the Chang’e 4 was the one that saw the launch of the Yutu or “Jade Rabbit” rover along with a stationary probe to the moon in 2013.
Because of the success of the Chang’e 3 mission, Chinese officials made it clear that the back-up hardware would be retrofitted for the Chang’e 4. The aim of the already successful Chang’e 4 mission is to probe the far side of the Moon which has not been done since man began space exploration pioneered by Russia and the United States of America (USA).
The far side of the Moon refers to the other side of the Moon that never faces the Earth because both the Moon’s rotation and its orbital revolution complete in 28 days. The far side of the Moon is what, as a misnomer, is referred to as the dark side of the Moon.
According to reports, the Chang’e 4 “set down in the South Pole-Aitken Basin, which is the site of a cataclysmic collision that occurred about 3.9 billion years ago. The celestial smash-up left a 1,550-mile-wide impact site that likely punched all the way through the moon’s crust. More specifically, Chang’e-4 landed inside Von Kármán, a roughly 111-mile-wide crater that should have good access to the larger basin’s geology.”
So, the Chang’e 4 landed in the Von Kármán crater which is reported to be the largest crater in our Solar System. The hope is that this landing will make it possible for us to sample and analyse the deeper parts of the Moon that even leads to the mantle.
The Chang’e 4 lander and rover will assist us to understand the formation and the history of the Moon and scientists also hope that they will be able to understand the Earth’s early history when biological life began.
This is as the craters formed on the Moon are also indications of the impacts that the Earth has also received billions of years ago.
So, scientists hope to study these samples that the Chang’e 4 will get from these craters, especially from the Von Kármán crater, in order to know what these early impacts or collisions brought and the possible implications they may have for life on Earth.
Another benefit of the Chang’e 4 mission is that it makes it possible for scientists to study the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR). This is a low-frequency radiation that is said to be the after-glow of the big bang that resulted in the universe.
But the efforts so far to study this radiation from the Earth has seen so many challenges one of which is the high-frequency radiations in our upper atmosphere, some of which are due to our human telecommunications.
But the far side of the Moon is a very quiet spot to study the CMBR and even for any radio astronomical mission. This is as the Moon acts as a deflector or absorber of any interference signal.
This is one of the immense benefits of the Chang’e 4 mission which I also find fascinating and important in this post-modern era of physics: we really need a quiet spot in our Solar System!
However, the reason why the far side of the Moon is a quiet spot is also the reason why any mission to the far side of the Moon has been hard to accomplish.
Scientists found out that they usually lose contact or connection with any space-craft when it makes it route along the far side of the Moon.
This was what happened “when Apollo astronauts orbited the moon, for example, they temporarily (and expectedly) lost contact with mission control in Houston each time they passed behind the 2,159-mile-wide ball of rock.”
The simple reason as you may have guessed is that the Moon blocks any radio communication between Earth and its far side. To find a way around this, the Chinese Space Agency carried out a precursory mission in May which launched the Queqiao telecommunications satellite in a gravity-neutral spot in space, called a Lagrange point.
The Lagrange point, according to modern physics, is where the gravitational effects of the Earth and the Moon cancel each other.
So, the Queqiao is parked at this spot and it is a position that is directly over the far side of the Moon and also in the Earth’s line of sight. As a result, the Chang’e 4 robots can communicate with the Earth through the Queqiao which now serves as the “bridge” between them and the Earth.
This is a brilliant maneuver that the Chinese have accomplished. It is now possible for the China National Space Administration’s mission control center to control and communicate with the Chang’e 4 lander and rover.
According to reports by the Chinese Space Agency, the Chang’e 4 rover is solar powered to last for 3 months while the lander is powered to last for a year.
In addition, not only will the Chang’e 4 mission carry out rock samplings and radio astronomical missions, but it will also deposit Earth life on the Moon.
“The lander holds a seven-inch-long aluminum container, that contains potato seeds, Arabidopsis (mustard) seeds, and silkworm eggs. And account to “Zhang Yuanxun, chief designer of the container, explained the goal for these seeds and worms in the Chongqing Morning Post, according to People’s Daily:
“The eggs will hatch into silkworms, which can produce carbon dioxide, while the potatoes and seeds emit oxygen through photosynthesis,” Yuanxun said. “Together, they can establish a simple ecosystem on the moon.”
And according to the long term plan for the lunar mission, the Chinese hopes to launch the Chang’e 5 in the latter end of 2019 which will bring back some rock samples of the Moon. This will help scientists have a close inspection of the Moon and its composition.
After this mission, in the 2030s, the Chinese Space Agency hopes to launch a crewed moon-landing mission. If they are successful, it would be the first time that people landed on the Moon since the Apollo mission or program that ended in 1972.
A successful mission that places man for a long time on the Moon could be what set the stage for deep space explorations and the habitation of man and other life forms in the other parts of our Solar System and the universe.
This mission will be greatly assisted and made possible by post-modern physics which gives us the complete understanding of the universe and of life itself.
This complete understanding of the universe and especially of life itself are what will give us the necessary boldness as we march out to explore other parts of the universe beyond our Earthly space.
Until next time,
I will be here.
– M. V. Echa
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