China’s dark side Moon lander has just successfully entered the lunar orbit

Space

A Chinese lander destined for the far side of the Moon – the side that always faces away from the Earth – has now entered lunar orbit, Space News reports.

Early Wednesday morning, the spacecraft carrying the Chang’e-4 lander completed its journey from Earth, which took nearly five days, and settled into an elliptical orbit around the Moon.

If the mission is successful, Chang’e-4 will be the first-ever lander to explore the so-called “dark side of the Moon”.

It’ll rove the lunar surface, examine the Moon’s composition, and even dabble in amateur gardening with a small pod that’ll grow seeds and silkworm larvae.

To communicate with the Earth, Chang’e-4 will bounce signals off a relay satellite launched earlier this year.

(CNSA)(CNSA)

Chinese officials haven’t announced a firm date or location for the craft’s landing, but it’s expected to touch down in early January 2019, probably in the spacious Von Kármán crater.

China is already planning Chang’e-5, the mission to come after Chang’e-4. If all goes according to plan, that will be China’s first Moon mission to return samples back to Earth and it’ll launch in late 2019.

This article was first published on Futurity and is republished here under a CC BY 4.0 license. Read the original article.

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