Destination: a massive crater.
Visiting the Dark Side of the Moon
It's official. At 2:23 am in southern China, a rocket carrying unique payload successfully launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center.
On board is a lander which, if all goes smoothly, will soon make history by touching down on the far side of the Moon.
Here's a replay of the launch from the unofficial stream pic.twitter.com/n18I501UPH
— Andrew Jones (@AJ_FI) December 7, 2018
The Chang'e 4
Futurism has previously reported on the Chang'e 4 lunar lander, which is scheduled to land near the Moon's southern pole in a giant plain called the Von Kármán crater. It's mission will be to explore the composition of the lunar surface.
Scientists will study the data it collects in order to see how it compares to samples from the near side of the Moon.
It's also carrying a 3 kg (6.6 lb) container of seeds and silkworm larvae to study whether they can grow on the surface of the Moon — an experiment that could have long-term implications for a lunar colony.
The Back of the Moon
Since the Moon spins around the same center of rotation as Earth, it's always facing away from us.
Space programs have taken pictures of the so-called dark side of the Moon before, but we've never had a chance to get an up-close look. The far side is a far more rugged and mountainous surface than the well-studied near side of the Moon.
Good luck, Chang'e 4!
More on the Chang'e 4: China to Land First-Ever Rover on Dark Side of the Moon