A probe sent by to the far side of the moon by China’s space agency has been reactivated after two weeks spent hibernating.
Chang’e-4, the moon lander, is back to work after ‘sleeping’ during the second lunar night, which is equivalent to 14 days on Earth.
The lander woke from its slumber a few hours before its companion rover Yutu-2 (Jade Rabbit-2) and both are once again operating as normal.
China’s National Space Administration (CNSA) says it is now continuing their exploration of the lunar surface.
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China’s latest space shuttle mission to the far side of the moon has been reactivated after a two week hibernation. The lander Chang’e-4 is back to work after ‘sleeping’ during the second lunar night. Night time on the moon can be freezing and plunge as low as -180°C (-292°F)
China’s lunar rover also got back to work on the far side of the moon after waking from a 14-day hibernation, a few hours after lander woke up in the morning. Both are operating normally, says China’s space agency
China’s space agency previous said the current mission ‘lifted the mysterious veil’ from the far side of the moon, which is never seen from Earth, and ‘opened a new chapter in human lunar exploration’.
Because the space craft is solar powered, it has to switch off during a lunar night on the moon, during which there will be no sunlight.
The temperature on a lunar night is about -180°C (-292°F) and can get high during the day, where ‘insulating’ components like the gold coloured layers outside the lander and rover keep them cool.
There are variable heat conduction pipes, controllable two-phase electric fluidic circuits, etc. and they can control my temperature to under 55°C.
Yutu-2 has a host of instruments and will be powered by solar panels. Unlike the similar probe on-board the Chang’e-3 mission this rover has no robotic arm. It announced afterwards it will be taking a ‘nap’ to protect against the sun’s immense heat on the moon
During the mission’s last lunar night, Yutu-2’s account on China’s popular social media account Weibo posted a message explaining that the machine will not actually turn off during the snooze. It will simply enter a standby mode.
In this form it will be charged up via solar panels, write a ‘diary’, send monitoring footage and provide readers with stories about the moon.
The post concluded: ‘I didn’t expect to take a break after working only for one day, but it’s an important mission to protect oneself.
‘Master, remember to wake me up early when the work starts again.’
Zhang Yuhua, deputy chief commander of the mission, told Chinese state media: ‘After that, the rover will go to its planned area and start a series of scientific exploration projects in the Von Kármán crater as planned by scientists.’
A never-before-seen ‘close range’ image taken by the Chinese spacecraft Chang’e-4 of the surface of the far side of the moon. It appears to take on a reddish hue in some of the images released by China, an effect of the lights used by the probe
The rover is equipped with a variety of scientific instruments to help it analyse the surface of the moon, including a panoramic and infrared camera, ground-penetrating radar and a low-frequency radio spectrometer
A TIMELINE OF HOW CHINA REACHED THE FAR SIDE OF THE MOON
Chang’e-4 launched from the Xichang satellite launch centre in Sichuan, south-west China at 6:30 GMT on December 7
October 24, 2007 – China launches Chang’e-1, an unmanned satellite, into space where it remains operational for more than a year.
October 1, 2010 – China launches Chang’e-2. This was part of the first phase of the Chinese moon programme. It was in a 100km-high lunar orbit to gather data for the upcoming Chang’e-3 mission.
September 29, 2011 – China launches Tiangong 1.
September 15, 2013 – A second space lab, Tiangong 2, is launched.
December 1, 2013 – Chang’e-3 launched.
December 14, 2013 – Chang’e-3, a 2,600 lb (1,200 kg) lunar probe lands on the near side of the moon successfully. It became the first object to soft-land on the Moon since Luna 24 in 1976.
April 1, 2018 – Tiangong-1 crashes to Earth at 17,000mph and lands in the ocean off the coast of Tahiti.
May 20, 2018 – China launches a relay satellite named Queqiao which is stationed in operational orbit about 40,000 miles beyond the Moon. This is designed to enable Chang’e-4 to communicate with engineers on Earth.
The Chang’e-4 lunar rover is lifted into space from the Xichang launch centre in China’s southwestern Sichuan province on December 7
December 7, 2018 – Chinese space agency announces it has launched the Chang’e-4 probe.
December 12, 2018 – Retrorockets on the probe are fired to stabilise the spacecraft and slow it down.
December 31, 2018 – The probe prepares for the first-ever soft landing on the far side of the Moon.
January 4, 2019 – It lands the Chang’e-4 lander on the far side of the moon
Planned for 2020 – Tiangong 3,a follow-up mission to the Tiangong-2
Before 2033 – China plans for its first uncrewed Mars exploration program.
2040 – 2060 – The Asian superpower is planning a crewed mission to Mars.
Results of these experiments by the Chang’e-4 could lead to new understandings of the challenges faced by settlers who may one day colonise our natural satellite.
‘It’s a small step for the rover, but one giant leap for the Chinese nation,’ Wu Weiren, the chief designer of the Lunar Exploration Project, told state broadcaster CCTV.
‘This giant leap is a decisive move for our exploration of space and the conquering of the universe.’
The rover is equipped with a variety of scientific instruments to help it analyse the surface of the moon, including a panoramic and infrared camera, ground-penetrating radar and a low-frequency radio spectrometer.
The mission is formed of three basic parts – the rover, the lander and the relay satellite. They will work in unison to study, analyse and send information back to the scientists on Earth
Professor Crawford added: ‘While operational, it will rove around studying the composition of rocks, and the sub-surface using its ground-penetrating radar.
‘It will just be left on the Moon once it ceases to function, unless one day it is collected and brought back to a museum.’
The rover will use its panoramic camera to identify interesting locations and its Visible and Near-Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (VNIS) will help analyse minerals in the crater.
This includes what scientists call ‘ejecta’ – rocks that have churned up from deep to the surface from impacts meteors.
Its Lunar Penetrating Radar (LPR) instrument will take a look down into the depths of the moon with a maximum vertical distance of approximately 300 feet (100 metres).
The landing site on the Moon of space shuttle Chang’e-4 has also been officially named ‘Statio Tianhe’ or The Milky Way Base, at a Beijing conference today.
The landing site on the Moon of space shuttle Chang’e-4 has been officially named ‘Statio Tianhe’ or The Milky Way Base, at a Beijing conference today
The name, along with others for three craters and a peak nearby, were agreed by the
Naming landing locations on planets is common practice, led by the United States and the former Soviet Union on their lunar explorations.
The Chinese names allude to ancient folklore, with the term Tianhe meaning Milky Way, its literal translation being ‘sky-river’ in Mandarin.
The Latin ‘Statio’ which means base, is also part of the landing site name.
The names, which were also given to three craters and a peak nearby, were agreed upon by the China National Space Administration, Chinese Academy of Sciences and the International Astronomical Union. ‘Hegu’ (pictured) which means River Drum
Naming landing locations on planets is common practice, precedented by the United States and the former Soviet Union on their lunar explorations. Tianjin (pictured)
The Chinese names allude to ancient folklore, with the term Tianhe meaning Milky Way, its literal translation being ‘sky-river’ in Mandarin. Taishan or Mount Tai (pictured) is the peak found near the landing site and the name of a famous Chinese mountain
Three craters close to landing site were also named Zhinu (weaver girl), Hegu (river drum) and Tianjin,after three constellations of ancient Chinese astrology.
The names all allude to an ancient folklore tale about the ‘weaver girl’ and her banished lover, a ‘cowherder boy’.
They are separated by the Milky Way and can only meet once a year on a bridge formed by magpies, known as Queqiao, the name given to China’s relay satellite on the dark side of the moon.
This special day, Qixi falls on the 7th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar each year, often referred to as ‘Chinese Valentine’s Day’.
China successfully achieved a global first with its trip to the far side of the Moon when it landed in the Von Kármán crater on January 4, 2019.
The country has claimed it wants to be the first country to establish a base on the moon and says it will build it using 3D printing technology.
Officials from the Chinese space agency also said the country will return to the moon by the end of the year with the Chang’e-5 mission.
There have been numerous landings on the moon as a result of the 20th century space race between the US and the USSR – including the famed Apollo 11 mission which saw Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin become the first humans on the moon
Three successive missions will further explore the barren surface and the viability of building houses there.
China is swiftly establishing a reputation as one of the forerunners in the renaissance of the space race with its continued investment in both Martian and lunar missions.
After Chang’e-5 returns lunar rocks from the surface the next mission, Chang’e-6 will be the first mission to explore the south pole of the moon.
Chang’e-7 will study the land surface, composition and space environment in a comprehensive mission, it was claimed, while Chang’e-8 will focus on technical surface analysis.
Mission number eight will likely lay the groundwork for a potential lunar base as it strives to verify the technology earmarked for the ambitious project.
China National Space Administration (CNSA) said they also have plans to go to Mars in 2020, a timeline that would likely make them the first to do so, beating out the US, Russia and the plethora of private firms looking to colonise space.
WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF CHINESE SPACE EXPLORATION?
Officials from the Chinese space agency have said the country will return to the moon by the end of 2019 with the Chang’e-5 mission.
This will collect rocks from the near side of the moon and return them to Earth for further study.
Chang’e-6 will be the first mission to explore the south pole of the moon.
Chang’e-7 will study the land surface, composition, space environment in a comprehensive mission, it was claimed, while Chang’e-8 will focus on technical surface analysis.
China is also reportedly working on building a lunar base using 3D printing technology.
Mission number eight will likely lay the groundwork for this as it strives to verify the technology earmarked for the project and if it is viable as a scientific base.
China’s space agency the China National Space Administration (CNSA) also say they want to travel to mars by 2020.