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 the 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.
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.
READ MORE: Chang’e-4 Spacecraft Enters Lunar Orbit Ahead of First-Ever Far Side Landing [Space News]
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