In Early January, China’s Chang’e 4 mission is set to land on the far side of the moon.
The exploratory mission is composed of a lander and a rover, both of which will perform a number of scientific experiments as well as explore the surface of the far side of the moon.
If the mission succeeds, the Chang’e 4 will become the first successful landing on the far side of the moon.
Now, the Chinese Space Agency has reported that their spacecraft has successfully traveled 385,000 kilometers, in a journey that lasted 110 hours after which it entered lunar orbit.
Retrorockets have been fired on December 12 to slow down the spacecraft and stabilize it as it entered lunar orbit.
The spacecraft is expected to touch down on the far side of the moon sometime in early January. The exact landing date is not known as the Chinese Space Agency has revealed little details.
The lander is expected to touch down in the South Pole-Aitken basin’s Von Karman crater, considered the largest in the entire solar system at 15,000 miles (24,000km) across and eight miles deep.
Chang’e 4 launched from the Xichang satellite launch center in Sichuan, south-west China at 6:30 GMT on December 7 carried by a Long March-3B rocket.
The spacecraft is expected to travel for 27 days, after which it is expected to perform a soft landing.
Chang’e 4 is expected to reveal previously unknown details about the moon’s surface. Scientists expect to better understand the history and geology go the moon and collect never-before-seen rocks.
The depth of the Von Karman crater is also expected to yield important scientific data on the moon’s mantle, the layer located beneath the surface.
Chang’e 4 is hailed as a ‘hugely ambitious’ mission and a sign of China’s growing space program.
Chang’e 4 (so called in honor of a goddess who, according to Chinese mythology, lives on the Moon) will also attempt and grow ‘plants’ on the moon, and see how life reacts to low gravity.
Chang’e 4 carries silkworm eggs, potato seeds, and flowers and will allow scientists to observe germination, growth, and respiration in low gravity condition.
The latest Chinese mission will add to the massive amount of manmade artifacts that are already on the moon’s surface.
In total, there are believed to be around 175,788 kilograms of ‘trash’ on the moon’s surface.