Chang’e-4 Moon lander, rover and relay satellite.
Credit: Chinese Academy of Sciences

The China National Space Administration (CNSA) has announced that the country’s Chang’e-4 probe has entered a planned orbit Sunday morning to prepare for the first-ever soft landing on the farside of the Moon.

Chang’e-4 entered a new lunar orbit with the low point at roughly 9.3 miles (15 kilometers), and about 62 miles (100 kilometers) at its high point.

Orbital adjustments

This lander/rover mission was launched by a Long March-3B carrier rocket on December 8 from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China’s Sichuan Province. Chang’e-4 then entered lunar orbit on December 12.

China’s Chang’e-4 Moon lander – far side bound.
Credit: New China TV/Screengrab/Inside Outer Space

The probe then made two orbital adjustments, along with testing the Queqiao relay satellite communications link. That satellite was launched last May and was nudged into a halo orbit around the second Lagrangian (L2) point of the earth-moon system.

Landing date to come

Ground control engineers also checked the imaging instruments and ranging detectors on the probe to prepare for the landing. The control center will choose a proper time to land the probe on the farside of the moon, according to CNSA – reportedly within the next few days.

For more details on the implications of Chang’e-4, go to my Scientific American story:

With First-Ever Landing on Moon’s Farside, China Enters “Luna Incognita”

The Chang’e-4 mission could have major effects on Earthbound science and politics

Also, go to this CCTV Video about the mission:

In addition, go to this informative video:

More China-EU space program co-op expected as Chang’e-4 probe prepares for moon-landing



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