Chang’e-4, which is relay satellite and one that is being touted to be the first ever probe to land safely on the far side of the Moon, would help in the establishment of a communication link between the far side of the Moon and the Earth. It will join a satellite already positioned strategically near the moon’s far side.
Peijian, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and one of China’s leading space experts, said that the probe can also help in serving probes from other countries and hence contributing to international scientific exploration.
The satellite is called Queqiao, or Magpie Bridge and after being launched on May 21 has settled itself in the Halo orbit around the second Lagrangian (L2) point of the Earth-Moon system. from that position it is able to “see” both the Moon’s far side and the Earth.
It is expected that the Chang’e-4 probe along with its lander and a rover would be launched later this year. Ye, who has worked in China’s lunar exploration program since Chang’e-1 more than 10 years ago had proposed the mission of the probe of investigating the far side of the Moon.
The Chang’e-4 is extension of the Chang’e-3 probe program that was blasted into space at the end of 2013 and was the first Chinese spacecraft to soft-land on and explore an extraterrestrial object.
Chang’e-4’s destination was debated following the successful completion of the mission of Chang’e-3. There were a some who wanted the latest probe to land on the near side of the Moon once again because of safety reasons.
“I disagreed with that. Why should Chang’e-4 repeat what Chang’e-3 had done? We should not be afraid of failure in scientific exploration. We need innovation,” Ye said.
Instead, he suggested that the Chang’e-4 be programmed to land on the Moon’s far side which would also be unprecedented and innovative.
He is of the opinion that both the United States and the Soviet Union had on earlier occasions desired to explore the far side of the moon but could not do so because of technological reasons.
The same side of the moon always faces the Earth because the revolution cycle of the moon is the same as its rotation cycle. It is not possible for view most of the other side of the Moon from Earth. A relay satellite is necessary for transmitting signals for landing and roving on the far side of the Moon.
The Queqiao which is the first ever satellite operating on the Halo orbit would also be able to help in communicating with probes from other countries which desire to examine the investigate the other side of the Moon as well if needed.
“That’s the significance of going to the far side of the Moon. China will not only be the first to go there, but will also contribute to world scientific exploration,” Ye said.
(Adapted from Xinhuanet.com)