China is once again on the verge of a historic moon mission. Since 2007 China has launched three missions to explore Earth’s moon which includes the one that has hosted China’s first-ever robotic lander and rover. On December 8, 2018, China has commenced its latest lunar mission by launching a Long March-3B carrier rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center. The rocket is carrying the Chang’e-4 spacecraft which is aiming the lunar hemisphere that faces away from Earth.
After voyaging for almost 4.5-days, Chang’e-4 pushed itself to acquire an elliptical lunar orbit. Chang’e-4 is anticipated to try its landing no sooner than early January 2019.
Mark Robinson, the principal investigator for NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) stated that compared to the near-side of the moon, we know very less about its far-side. Lunar scientists are hoping best for the Chang’e-4 spacecraft to have a successful landing near the mare region on the lunar far-side. These basalt-rich deposits which are made up of cooled lava are plentiful on the near-side but they are very less on the far-side.
According to Robinson, scientists do not have a documented sample of the far-side mare. He added that this would be their first look. Mare basalts will help to understand the moon’s overall composition with its mysterious mantle. Mantle is the layer between the crust and core. An in-depth description of the far-side mare will help scientists to study other things like the variance in the appearance of near-side and far-side of the moon.
Robinson stated that after touchdown, NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter’s LROC camera system will clearly able to detect the Chinese spacecraft, Chang’e-4.
Chang’e-4 is supposed to land at Von Kármán which is a lunar impact crater located within South Pole-Aitken basin on the lunar far-side. The basin is the oldest and biggest impact feature on the Moon.