Their lunar mission, the Chang’e 4 made history as it landed in the Von Kármán crater in the southern hemisphere on the far side of the Moon.
The crater is about 180 km in diameter and it is located within an even larger impact crater known as the South Pole–Aitken basin of roughly 2,500 km (1,600 mi) in diameter and 13 km (8.1 mi) deep.
The Chang’e 4 lander also recently released its Yutu-2 rover onto the lunar surface, in an effort to map and explore a never-before-seen region of the moon.
And now, Chang’e-4 has revealed that lunar nights, on the far side of the moon, are ‘colder than expected’.
The mission has discovered, to the surprise of many, that night-time temperatures on the moon’s dark side are colder than previously thought.
Temperatures on the moon’s surface plummeted to a freezing minus 190 degrees Celsius (-310 degrees Fahrenheit) during the probe’s first lunar night, which “was colder than scientists expected,” the China National Space Administration (CNSA) revealed.
The new temperature readings were registered by the Chinese lander after it was woken from its hibernation, following a nap that lasted for nearly two earth weeks.
Scientists found that the temperatures were much lower than previous data recorded by US missions on the near side of the moon.
“That’s probably due to the difference in lunar soil composition between the two sides of the moon,” revealed Zhang He, executive director of the Chang’e-4 mission in an interview with Xinhua News.
In other words, there’s something in the moon dust where Chang’e 4 is positioned that is causing the soil to retain less heat at night than lunar regions where the Apollo missions landed, although, researchers are still not sure what it is.
The Chinese mission on the far side of the moon will continue as planned, following the release of the Yutu-2 rover onto the lunar surface.
The rover will explore the the Von Karman Crater and gather never-before-seen data from the far side of the moon.
The Chang’e 4 mission is tasked with researching the lunar environment, cosmic radiation on the moon’s surface and the interaction between solar wind and the moon’s surface.