China unveils vehicle to explore moons far side

Image courtesy of CASC

China will also use the Chang'e-4 as an opportunity to determine if the far side of the Moon would be a suitable location for a Moon-based telescope that could take images of space that are simply impossible from Earth due to the noise from our ubiquitous electronics. Its length is 1.5 meters, width 1 meter and a height of 1.1 meters.

The mission, named Chang'e 4, follows in the footsteps of its predecessor (you guessed it, Chang'e 3) which saw a rover nicknamed "Jade Rabbit" land on the near side of the Moon back in 2013.

Pioneering space programmes earlier had photographed the far side of the Moon over half a century ago but could never manage to land there.


Like Yutu, the rover is equipped with four scientific payloads, including a panoramic camera, infrared imaging spectrometer and radar measurement devices, to obtain images of moon's surface and detect lunar soil and structure. The exploration vehicle is expected to do so by the end of the year. The moon has a large temperature difference between day and night, which can reach more than 300 degrees Celsius. The craft will carry both a rover and a stationary lander, which should function for about three months and a year respectively. China's National Defence Science and Technology Bureau in Beijing on Wednesday said "Chang'e-4 will rocket toward the moon in December". The bidders can send their proposals via Internet in the period from 15 August to 5 September.

Yutu's successor is now nameless, with a global competition underway to choose a moniker.

Direct communication with the far side of the moon is not possible, which is one of the many challenges for the Chang'e-4 mission. The victor will receive 3 thousand yuan (about $440) and will be invited to the launch to the moon. Along with these lunar rovers and its own (somewhat ill-fated) space station launches, China has kicked around the idea of sending manned missions to the Moon as well as exploration efforts on Mars and beyond.

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