Chang’e-4 shows Moon’s far side colder than expected during night

Olive Hawkins
February 2, 2019

The country made history on January 3 when the Chang'e 4 lunar probe landed in Von Karman crater on the moon's mysterious far side.

The Chinese space agency has revealed that four more lunar missions are planned, with Chang'e 5 - which will collect moon samples and deliver them to Earth - confirmed to launch later this year.

In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, the Chang'e 4 lunar probe launches from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China's Sichuan Province.

The walking route of China's lunar rover Yutu-2 on the far side surface of the Moon. However, "this is the first time humans have done biological growth experiments on the lunar surface", said Professor Xie Gengxin, who led the design of the experiment.

As a result of the tidal locking effect, the moon's revolution cycle is the same as its rotation cycle, and it always faces Earth with the same side. It has a different composition than sites on the near side, where previous missions have landed.

The probe reported nighttime temperatures that were much colder than expected: as low as minus 190 degrees Celsius, the China National Space Administration (SNSA) said Thursday.

"From the panorama, we could see the probe was surrounded by many small craters". Previously, Chinese scientists had no data on exactly how cold it could be.

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Temperatures vary enormously between day and night on the moon.

At the end of 2013, China launched Chang'e-3, the country's first spacecraft to soft-land on the moon.

The lander, which returned mesmeric footage of the landing, will begin observations with the low‐frequency radio spectrometer (LFS) while the Lunar Lander Neutrons and Dosimetry (LND) instrument developed in Germany will measure levels of radiation and seek to detect evidence of water.

The measurement of the temperature changes between the day and night on the moon will help scientists estimate the properties of the lunar soil, Zhang said.

NASA said it discussed in the past month with China to explore the possibility of observing a signature of the landing plume of Chang'e-4, as in a manner similar to what was done for Chang'e-3.

The Chang'e-4 spacecraft will carry out a range of science experiments and continue to return images from the topography camera on the lander and a panoramic camera on Yutu-2.

The United States space agency said Friday that its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) is expected to image the landing site of China's lunar lander Chang'e-4 on January 31.

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