China has launched a rover to the far side of the moon in a bid to become the world's first nation to explore the "dark side" of the moon. It will also test the ability to make radio astronomy observations from the moon's far side, sans the noise effects from Earth.
The other 40 per cent of the moon's surface, which comprises the far side, has thus been seen in images taken by spacecraft, including lunar orbiters.
The most ambitious robotic moon probe ever by any space-faring country was launched by China on Saturday morning.
"As no astronauts or rovers have ever landed on the far side, we know little about it except for speculation based on remote-sensing images", Zhang said.
"She's heading to a place that has a special importance for the study of the moon".
However, the chosen landing area for Chang'e-4, which is a smaller crater within a larger crater, is much narrower than the landing site of Chang'e-3, and the terrain is more rugged, posing great challenges for the landing, said Wu Xueying, deputy chief designer of the probe.
An artist's conception shows the Chang'e-4 rover on the lunar surface.
Those measurements will be easier to make from the moon because it will act as a giant shield against electromagnetic interference coming from Earth. Chinese astronomers plan to send data back via Queqiao, a satellite China launched earlier this year to relay the information, BBC reports.
Launch of the Chang'e-4 mission from Xichang at 18:23 UTC December 7, 2018.
To solve this problem, the Chinese team launched a satellite into the L2 Lagrange point-one of the five points in a two-body system where the gravitational pull from both bodies nullifies the net effect enough for an object to be stable in that space without tumbling away into space. The scientific instruments on its lander are still operating, making Chang'e-3 the longest working man-made probe on the moon.
It successfully performed a burn to send the Chang'e-4 spacecraft to trans-lunar injection shortly after.