China is sending a probe to get samples from the less-explored far side of the moon

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China is getting ready for an exciting journey to the moon’s far side! On Friday, they’re planning to launch a lunar probe that will land on the side of the moon we don’t usually see from Earth. This mission could give us a lot of new information about the moon’s surface and what makes it different from the side we’re familiar with.

This mission is a big deal because no one has ever landed a probe on the far side of the moon before. It’s part of China’s growing space exploration program, which is now competing with the United States, a leader in space exploration. In 2019, China made history by landing a rover on the far side of the moon, and now they’re ready to take the next step.

The moon’s far side is a bit of a mystery to scientists because it’s never directly visible from Earth. This means it’s free from any interference from Earth’s atmosphere, making it perfect for scientific research like radio astronomy. However, since the far side doesn’t face Earth, we need a special satellite to help communicate with probes and rovers on that side.

The lunar probe leading this mission is named Chang’e, after a Chinese mythical moon goddess. It’s going to be launched into space on a Long March-5 YB rocket from the Wenchang launch center in Hainan province. The launch is scheduled for Friday evening, and the target time is 5:27 p.m.

This isn’t China’s first lunar mission. In 2020, they brought back samples from the moon’s near side, which was a huge achievement. These samples contained tiny beads of water embedded in lunar soil, giving scientists valuable information about the moon’s composition.

In addition to their lunar missions, China has also been busy with their own space station. Three Chinese astronauts recently returned home after spending six months on the country’s orbiting space station. China built its own space station because they were excluded from the International Space Station, mostly due to concerns from the United States about China’s military involvement in space.

Looking ahead, China has big plans for its space program. They want to put astronauts on the moon by 2030 and bring back samples from Mars around the same time. They’re also planning three more lunar probe missions over the next four years, with the next one scheduled for 2027. Eventually, they hope to establish a permanent crewed base on the moon, but that’s still in the early stages of planning.

China’s space station, called Tiangong, is much smaller than the International Space Station but still important for scientific research. It can accommodate up to six astronauts and is mainly used for experiments and research. China has even said they might allow foreign astronauts and space tourists to visit their space station in the future.

While China’s space program is making impressive strides, the United States still has a significant advantage in terms of spending, technology, and capabilities. The U.S. is planning to send a crew back to the moon by the end of 2025, with the help of private companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin. They’re aiming to land near the moon’s south pole, where there could be frozen water in shadowed craters.

China’s upcoming lunar probe mission is an exciting step forward in space exploration. It’s a testament to their growing capabilities and ambitions in the field of space science. As we continue to learn more about the moon and beyond, we’re opening up new opportunities for scientific discovery and exploration.

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