China first to send probe to dark side of the moon

9 Sep 2015

China is planning to send a lunar probe to the far, dark side of the moon. With radio signals from there non-existent so far, this could vastly improve the work of astronomers in future.

Scheduled to happen before the end of this decade, officials want to conduct the first-ever study of geological conditions in a part of our moon that we don’t know a whole lot about.

Zou Yongliao, from the moon exploration department at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, made the announcement, with his agency having form in this area.

China lunar mission

Last October, a China lunar flyby captured a stunning image of the dark side of the moon just as it headed for home (below).

That mission took an eight-day round-trip flight, with its next project a 2017 attempt to land an unmanned spacecraft on the moon, before returning to Earth with samples.

China lunar mission

We know more about our moon than many other objects in our solar system, however, there still are several mysteries to solve.

Radio transmissions from Earth are unable to reach the far side, making a potential mission an excellent opportunity to place a radio telescope for use by astronomers.

Here is a video of how the Juno spacecraft viewed both Earth and the moon when it used our gravitational pull to slingshot it towards Jupiter a couple of years ago – it arrives in the Jovian world next summer.

Main image via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic