BEIJING – Chinese scientists are optimistic after the success of the first-ever soft landing on the far side of the moon and expect important discoveries from the mission, state-run agency Xinhua reported on Friday.
Chinese robotic probe Chang’e 4, consisting of a lander and a rover (Yutu), became the first to land on the dark side of the moon on Thursday.
“The far side of the moon has very unique features, and has never been explored in situ, so Chang’e-4 might bring us breakthrough findings,” said Zou Yongliao, director of the lunar and deep space exploration division of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).
“With the Chang’e-4 probe, we can detect information hidden deeply inside the moon. I believe there will be surprising scientific findings,” he added, according to Xinhua.
The expert explained that there were great differences between the two sides of the moon.
For example, about 60 percent of the near – or visible – side is covered by mare basalt while the major part of the far side is covered by lunar highland anorthosite and of the 22 lunar mares, 19 are located on the near side.
The scientists will also seek to clarify issues such as why the lunar crust on the far side is much thicker than on the near side.
“The rocks on the far side are more ancient. The analysis of their substance composition might help us better understand the evolution of the moon,” according to Zou.
This pioneering mission could also help understand the common past of the Earth and the moon, according to Lin Yangting, a researcher from the Institute of Geology and Geophysics of CAS, who said “the moon might provide us with some insights to the early history of Earth.”
Other objectives of the mission are to try to determine why a heavy asteroid bombardment occurred in the solar system some 3.9 billion years ago and to study cosmic radiation and the interaction between solar wind and the moon’s surface – essential knowledge for a possible manned mission to the moon as both cosmic radiation and solar wind could harm people and equipment.
The probe is equipped with instruments developed by scientists from China, Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands, with which the scientists wish to detect weak signals emitted from remote celestial bodies in outer space. On the far side, the body of the moon shields against radio interference from Earth.
If this goal were met, the experts could have new data on the origin and evolution of stars and galaxies.