China Lands on Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. An event that up until today had never been accomplished before by any nation. This may be because of tidal locking. Tidal locking occurs when the moon’s rotation has slowed down dramatically due to tidal forces. This tidal locking maintains the moons rotation so that the same side is constantly facing Earth. The side not facing us is commonly referred to as the Dark Side since we have never seen it before. Until now.
China’s Chang’e 4 spacecraft took off into space on December 8. It not only landed but sent home brilliant photos of the dark side of the moon. And lo and behold, it’s not that dark. The spacecraft got it’s name from the Chinese Goddess Chang’e, who lived the remainder of her eternal life on the moon.
But you may be wondering, why hasn’t the United States or the Soviet Union attempted to put a spacecraft or satellite on the dark side of the moon before now? Well the answer is simple. It’s nearly impossible to have any kind of communication with NASA, or anyone for that matter, on earth if you have a ginormous astronomical planet (2nd densest satellite in the solar system after Jupiter and a diameter of over 2,000 miles) blocking any radio frequency between you and earth. The Chinese got around this problem by utilizing a relay satellite. But using this relay satellite means that any dark side landing must be done completely using the satellites own navigational capabilities and without any human intervention. Quite a feat!
The Chinese should bask and celebrate in this huge victory and scientific accomplishment. Additionally, the United States will soon celebrate (July) the 50th anniversary of the only country to have a manned mission land and astronauts walk on the moon.
The world looks to the future and the next century of science and space exploration!
China National Space Administration/Xinhua News Agency, Chinese Academy of Sciences and Jiang Hongjing
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