The mission is part of a larger Chinese programme of lunar exploration.
China's robotic Chang'e 4 spacecraft streaked away from Earth today (Dec. 7), launching atop a Long March 3B rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center at about 1:23 p.m. EST (1823 GMT; 2:23 a.m. on December 8 local China time).
The launch took place from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan Province on a Long March 3B rocket today, December 7, at 1:23 pm Eastern time (2:23 am local time in China).
Chang'e 4 rover and lander models produced by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation on display on the first day of the China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in November.
Although located near the moon's south pole, Chang'e 4's target crater is still subjected to extreme temperature changes as the moon rotates once every 28 days. So, here on Earth, we always see the same face of our cosmic neighbor.
China's most recent mission almost pursues the touchdown of NASA's InSight shuttle on Mars on Monday, at a site under 400 miles (640 kilometers) from the American meanderer Curiosity, the main other working robot on Mars. So in May 2018 China launched a relay satellite called Queqiao to a gravitationally stable lunar synchronous orbit about 65,000 kilometers beyond the moon, where the gravity of both Earth and the moon keep the relay satellite moving in a halolike motion that ensures it is continuously in sight of both the lunar farside and Earth.
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The rover is actually the original backup to China's Jade Rabbit rover that landed on the moon in 2013; it has since been repurposed for this more ambitious mission.
China landed its Yutu rover on the moon five years ago and plans to send its Chang'e 5 probe there next year. It has a lander/rover combination that aims to explore above and below the lunar surface.
Such information could help scientists better understand why the lunar far side is so different from the near side.
The Chang'e 4 spacecraft, named after the Chinese moon goddess, is scheduled to launch around 1:30 p.m. ET Friday, The Guardian reported. The landers' are called the Landing Camera (LCAM), the Terrain Camera (TCAM), the Low Frequency Spectrometer (LFS), and the Lunar Lander Neutrons and Dosimetry (LND), which was provided by Germany.
China will use the preceding three weeks in lunar orbit to take images of the surface, and ensure the landing site is clear of obstacles. It is planning to launch construction of its own manned space station next year. The Chang'e-3 lunar lander was the first since 1976.
Additionally, according to a story by Xinhua, China's state-run news agency, the mission will also include a biological investigation consisting of a tin full of seeds.