China is today sending a probe to unknown territory on the dark side of the moon.
Chang-e-4 targets our natural satellites on the Von Karman crater of the South Pole-Aitken Basin, the largest in the entire solar system at 15,000 miles (24,000 km) and eight miles deep.
It started from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan, southwestern China at 6:30 GMT, with the launch declared a success.
It takes Chang & # 39; e 4 about three days to travel to the moon, where it will be in orbit around the earth for about three weeks.
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The Chang & # 39; e-4 (pictured artist), will be launched later today and will be the first rover to land on the other side of the lunar surface. A lander helps the spaceship to the dark side of the moon
It is expected to be a soft landing & # 39; and lands on the moon after a 27-day journey through space.
Exploring the huge divot on the surface of the moon can shed new light on its history and geology by collecting stones that have never been seen before.
Researchers hope that the enormous depth of the crater will enable them to study the mantle of the moon, the layer below the surface, of the moon.
Chang & e-4 has been described as & # 39; extremely ambitious & # 39; and announced as a sign of China's growing intentions to rival the bravery of the US, Russia and the EU.
China has a pockmarked history of space exploration and its most noteworthy high-profile enduring enterprise in humiliation when the space station, Tiangong-1, crashed back to Earth after the job stalled.
Chang & e-4 has been described as & # 39; extremely ambitious & # 39; and announced as a sign of China's growing intentions to compete with the gallantry in space travel in the US, Russia and the EU
It hopes to restore its reputation with the Chang & e-4 mission and become the first country to ever successfully carry out such a mission.
The other side of the moon is also known as the dark side because it is off the earth and remains relatively unknown.
It has a different composition to locations on the near side of the moon where several previous missions have landed and explored.
The mission is scheduled to take off on board a long Mars 3B rocket and it is hoped that it will stimulate the Chinese space program alongside the world's superpowers while exploring the moon.
Chang & e-4 is a lander-rover combination and will explore both above and below the lunar surface after arrival in the Von Karman crater after its month-long journey.
It will undergo radio astronomical studies free from interference from our planet's ionosphere, man-made radiofrequencies and auroral radiation noise, & # 39; told space industry expert Leonard David at Space.com.
The Chinese plan includes two missions. One places a satellite in orbit around the moon to send information and data back to earth (left). The other part concerns a lander and a rover who work together to explore the surface of the moon (right)
The probe and explorer will use Queqiao to get their findings back to China. Because the landing took place on the dark side of the moon, it needed its own satellite to be able to send information back
The payload will consist of materials needed for experiments, including a low-frequency radio spectrometer, a panoramic camera and a moon-penetrating radar, among other things.
Chang & e-4 is due to the start of the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan, in the southwest of China at 6:30 GMT
EXPLORATION IN CHINESE SPACE
China landed its Yutu, or "Jade Rabbit", five years ago on the moon and plans to send its Chang's E-5 probe there next year.
Change-5 is the successor to the current mission and returns to Earth with the first samples of the moon since 1976.
The Asian superpower is also considering a manned lunar mission.
On September 29, 2011, China launched Tiangong 1.
On December 14, 2013 China's Chang'em became the first object to softly land on the moon since Luna 24 in 1976
A second space lab, Tiangong 2, launched on 15 September 2016.
A larger base permanent space station would be the third and final phase of Project 921.
The first part, designated as Tiangong 3, is scheduled for the launch after Tiangong 2.
The Chinese space station is expected to be completed in 2020.
China is also planning to have its first displaced Mars reconnaissance program take place sometime between now and 2033, followed by a manned phase in 2040-2060.
It may also contain plant seeds and silkworm eggs, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.
The mission is named after Chang & # 39; e – the goddess of the moon in Chinese mythology.
China carried out its first manned space mission in 2003, making it the third country after Russia and the US to do so.
It has brought a few space stations into orbit around the earth, one of which is still the forerunner of a station of more than 60 tons that will be online in 2022.
It visits an unexplored area of the moon surface called the South Pole-Aitken basin (photo), located in the southern hemisphere of the moon
The relay satellite will fly to the Earth-Moon point in orbit around 80,000 km away from the surface of the moon (pictured)
Chang & e-4 focuses on the Von Karman crater of the South Pole-Aitken basin, the largest and deepest impact crater in the entire solar system. It is 15,000 miles (24,000 km) over and eight miles deep. China hopes to study the mantle of the moon and it has been described as & # 39; very ambitious & # 39;
It also plans a Mars rover mission for the mid-2020s.
To facilitate communication between controllers on earth and the Chang & # 39; e-4 mission, China launched a relay satellite called Queqiao.
This will be the primary form of communication between the earth and the spacecraft.
The probe and explorer will use Queqiao to get their findings back to China. Because the landing took place on the dark side of the moon, it needed its own satellite to be able to send information back.
The relay satellite flies to the Earth-Moon point in orbit around 80,000 km from the surface of the moon.
China's final mission closely follows the landing of NASA & # 39; s InSight spacecraft on Mars at a location less than 400 miles (640 kilometers) from the American rover Curiosity, the only other operating robot on Mars.