Wednesday , November 25 2020

The Hidden Side of the Moon: Four Scientific Goals of Chang "e 4, The Historic Mission of China to the Dark Side of our Satellite

It is something that has not achieved space.

And it confirms a "new world order" in the moon's exploration.

The Chinese probe Chang& # 39; e 4 This Thursday, it was the first ship to land on the hidden side of the moon.

The mission is a "historic step in space research," according to the Chinese press, and will allow to explore the lesser-known side of our satellite, in addition to performing experiments with living organisms such as potato seed and silk worms.

At BBC Mundo, we tell you about four ambitious scientific goals for the historic Chinese mission.

1. Examine a megakok in the solar system's history

The hidden face of the moon is also called the "dark side" of our satellite, not because it lacks lighting, but because it is largely unknown.

This page, which we never see from Earth, is radically different from the visible face and is covered by craters.


Changed 4 landed on the flat surface of about 200 km of a crater called Von Kárman, which again is in a large basin, depression of the aitken.

"This gigantic depression has 2,500 km in diameter and 13 km in depth"Andrew Coates, professor of physics at University College London, explained to the BBC.

"It is the product of one of the greatest consequences in the solar system.

"It is believed that the shock that created the Great Depression was so powerful that it pierced the Moon's crust to the mantle," Coates added.

Chinese scientists will seek to control their instruments against mantle rocks exposed in this basin.


The craters in Aitken depression are an overview of the effects that the Moon has experienced, and perhaps of the Earth throughout its history.

How significant were these effects to the origin of life? Changes 4 could help find an answer.

2. Explore the Moon's crust and interior

Many of the instruments in the probe are copies of its predecessor, Change 3, which landed in 2013 on the visible side of the moon.

Among these instruments are cameras that have already begun to capture and transmit revealing images of the hidden side of our satellite.


One of the greatest challenges for a mission to the hidden side of the moon is that The moon body itself blocks direct data transfer.

Therefore, the Chinese mission uses a satellite, Quiquiaowhich lies 60,000 km from the Moon and communicates the probe with Earth.

Changes 4 also have a radar that can penetrate the moon's surface. The crust is thicker on the dark side of the moon than on the visible side, where the crust is thinner and has been exposed to eruptions of magma producing garden, the dark areas that can be seen with the naked eye.


The mission that follows the one who landed this Thursday and it will have the name Shift& # 39; e 5, will try to get samples of the moon's surface and return them to the ground.

3. A unique opportunity for radio astronomy

The mission has a spectrometer that makes it possible to study solar radiation. And it, along with an instrument aboard the Quequiao satellite, can act as a radio telescope.

The hidden side of the moon is ideal for radio astronomy explorations because The body of the moon blocks the noise of the ionorterrestrial sphere and human radio transmitter.

Changes 4 will allow to perceive low frequency radio waves It cannot be captured from Earth.

These signals come from the beginning of the universe, a period known as the dark age, where there were no stars emitting light, but hydrogen atoms that emitted radio signals.

Not all instruments on board the probe are Chinese. German scientists collaborated with their Chinese peers on the installation of a particle detector in the explorer vehicle, and the radio astronomy instrument on the Quequiao satellite is a joint effort from China and the Netherlands.

4. Experiment with plants and worms

The probe carries capsules sealed with live soilincluding seeds of potato and a plant called arabidopsis, as well as coconuts of silkworms, with which China will seek to form a lunar mini biosphere.

If Arabidopsis blooms, the plant produces the "first flower on the moon," according to the Chinese press.

The sealed capsules allow the passage of sunlight so that plants can perform photosynthesis.


The experiment, designed in collaboration with 28 Chinese universities, is a groundbreaking test of photosynthesis and respiration of organisms in the low-moon gravity, a sixth of the Earth's experienced.

Previous tests at the International Space Station have already shown that the plants can grow well during micro-gravity, but an experiment with a beeorcontrolled ball on the lunar surface.

Another difference is that the international space station is under the protection of the so-called Van Allen belts, two areas in the form of radiation rings generated by the earth's magnetic field.

But experiments on the moon can demonstrate the growth of organisms without this protection against cosmic radiation.

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