Published: Sat, February 02, 2019
Sci-tech | By April Francis

China says it's even colder on the Moon than we thought

China says it's even colder on the Moon than we thought

China's Chang'e-4 lunar lander was awakened by sunlight at 20:39 BJT on Wednesday to continue its mission on the far side of the Moon.

The Chinese space agency has revealed that four more lunar missions are planned, with Chang'e 5 - which will collect moon samples and deliver them to Earth - confirmed to launch later this year.

China's lunar rover "Yutu-2", or Jade Rabbit 2 rolling onto the far side of the moon taken by the "Chang'e-4" lunar probe.

China's Chang'e-4 probe, launched on December 8, landed on the Von Karman Crater in the South Pole-Aitken Basin on the far side of the Moon on January 3.

Chang'e 4's landing on the far side of the moon is clearly a source of pride for China, as the nation has accomplished something no other country has done. However, "this is the first time humans have done biological growth experiments on the lunar surface", said Professor Xie Gengxin, who led the design of the experiment.

The moon's far side is also known as the dark side because it faces away from Earth and remains comparatively unknown.

"That's probably due to the difference in lunar soil composition between the two sides of the Moon". Previously, Chinese scientists had no data on exactly how cold it could be.

The probe reported nighttime temperatures that were much colder than expected: as low as minus 190 degrees Celsius, the China National Space Administration (SNSA) said Thursday. "We still need more careful analysis", Zhang was quoted as saying by the state-run Xinhua news agency. One of the things scientists were eager to observe is just how chilly the lander and its rover would get when enduring the lunar night, and now we finally know. "It was really thrilling", said Li Chunlai, deputy director of the National Astronomical Observatories of China and commander-in-chief of the ground application system of Chang'e-4.

It is tasked with studying the lunar environment, cosmic radiation and the interaction between solar wind and the moon´s surface.

Scientific instruments on board China´s previous Chang´e-3 moon mission, sent in late 2013, have withstood over 60 lunar nights and are still in operation, Xinhua said.

NASA's Curiosity rover also adopts this power technology, freeing it from the sunshine, sand and dust restrictions that have affected its predecessors Opportunity and Spirit, he explained.

By landing on the dark side of the moon and successfully growing plants, China has made clear its ambition to become one of the world's major superpowers in space exploration.

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