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East Coast Rain Blues

Why cold and snow is out and wet a warm remains the theme in the East, join in the conversation.


China Lands Probe on Far Side of Moon...

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Posted (edited)

At approximately 9:30pm EST on Wednesday January 2, 2019 China's Moon probe Chang'e-4, soft landed on the far side of the Moon.


The epic touchdown — which took place at 9:26 p.m. EST (0226 GMT and 10:26 a.m. Beijing time on Jan. 3), according to Chinese space officials — followed closely on the heels of two big NASA spaceflight milestones. On Dec. 31, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft entered orbit around the near-Earth asteroid Bennu, and the New Horizons probe zoomed past the distant object Ultima Thule just after midnight on Jan. 1.


First Picture from Chang'e-4:


Credit: Space.com

I had wondered how telemetry was being sent to Earth because the only way to do that would be to have a relay satellite in orbit to receive and then transmit. I found my answer here:


There's a reason no mission has landed on the lunar farside (though some space hardware has crashed there). The Moon is tidally locked with respect to the Earth, meaning it keeps roughly one hemisphere turned towards us as it orbits, and one turned perpetually away. Line-of-sight communications between the farside and Earth isn't possible. To solve this, China launched the Queqiao mission to head to a lissajous (halo) orbit around the lunar L2 Lagrange point early this year leading up to Chang'e 4, 37,300 miles (60,000 kilometers) beyond the Moon for a dedicated relay.

Sky and Telescope

There is a diagram of the relationships of the relay satellite, Chang'e-4 and its rover below where I found this quote, there is a better? schematic of the relationship at the Chinese National Space Administration's (CNSA) website, I will provide a link to it below.

Next in China's Moon Program is the launch of Chang'e-5 later in 2019.


If successful, China will follow up Chang'e 4 with an even more ambitious Chang'e 5 sample return mission, launching sometime in late 2019. China rehearsed the sample return maneuver with its Chang'e 5T1 flyby and Earth return mission in 2014. The heavier sample return mission requires China's new heavy lift rocket, the Long March 5, which failed on its second launch last year.

Sky and Telescope


Admittedly this is a great achievement for the Chinese Space program but it has raised anxiety for other space faring nations:



If you can read Chinese you will be okay with the CNSA's website. There is a montage of five events concerning Chang'e-4's mission, the fourth one is the schematic of the relationship I alluded to earlier.

If you prefer the English version of the Chang'e-4 mission it is Here

CNSA's English Home site.


OSIRIS-REx spacecraft entered orbit around the near-Earth asteroid Bennu:

At 2:43 p.m. EST on December 31, while many on Earth prepared to welcome the New Year, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, 70 million miles (110 million kilometers) away, carried out a single, eight-second burn of its thrusters – and broke a space exploration record. The spacecraft entered into orbit around the asteroid Bennu, and made Bennu the smallest object ever to be orbited by a spacecraft.



Edited by Cignus
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