A Chinese spacecraft is heading for the moon on a historic mission.
The rocket launched Saturday, carries a sin to make the first ever soft landing on the landing side, reports China's state race Xinhua News Agency.
While other spacecraft have previously explored the long-distance of the moon distant, soft landing will enable more detailed investigation of the moon's surface. The probe is expected to decline in early January.
If you're tempted to make a Pink Floyd joke, remember this: "The moon's side, we do not see Earth, gets as much sunlight on it as the page we see. In truth, the only dark side of the Moon is the side pointing away from the sun at any time, "says NASA.
Dark or not, exploring the distant side of the moon comes with its own challenges. For one, the moon will block direct communication between the probe and the scientists on Earth. In order to circumvent it, China launched a relay satellite in May, which allows the probe to stay in touch with the researchers. Citing the Chinese National Space Administration Xinhua explained the goals of this current mission:
The scientific tasks of the Chang 4-mission include low-frequency radio astronomical observation, terrain and land survey measurements, mineral composition detection, shallow moon surface structures, and neutron radiation and neutral atom measurement to study the environment on the far side of the moon.
These measurements become easier to make from the moon because it will act as a huge shield against electromagnetic interference coming from Earth. Smithsonian Magazine Reports that will also be a biological aspect of research – Silk worms, eggs and potato fries are on board for studies on respiration and photosynthesis.
If the mission succeeds, China plans to launch a fifth Chang mission next year that would collect samples of the moon's surface and bring them back to Earth.