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China is getting set to launch the first-ever surface mission to the moon's far side.
The robotic Chang'e 4 mission is scheduled to launch atop a Long March 3B rocket on Friday (Dec. 7) at around 1:30 p.m. EST (1830 GMT; 2:30 a.m. on Dec. 8 local China time).
Lander - Rover - Backups - China - Chang'e
Both the lander and the rover were designed as backups for China's successful Chang'e 3 mission, which put a lander and a rover named Yutu down on the moon in December 2013.
As a prelude to the Chang'e 4, China launched the Queqiao relay satellite this past May. Queqiao is now positioned at the Earth-moon L2 Lagrange point — a place where the spacecraft can handle communications between ground controllers and the lander-rover mission on the far side.
China - Yutu - Moon - Rover - Surface
China's Yutu moon rover, photographed on the lunar surface by the Chang'e 3 lander on Dec. 16, 2013. The Chang'e 4 mission to the lunar far side, which is scheduled to launch on Dec. 7, 2018, was designed as a backup for Chang'e 3.
Lots of scientific gear
Chang'e - Von - Kármán - Crater - SPA
Chang'e 4 is expected to touch down in Von Kármán Crater, within the SPA basin.
The mission, Jia and team members wrote, aims to complete:
Study - Surface
A low-frequency radio-astronomical study on the lunar surface;
A shallow-structure investigation at the lunar far side within the roving area;
Topographic - Composition - Studies - Lunar - Rover
Topographic and mineralogical composition studies of the lunar far side within the rover's patrol area.
The radio-astronomical study is particularly intriguing. The lunar far side always faces away from Earth, so it's is free from interference from our planet's ionosphere, human-made radio frequencies and auroral radiation noise. Solar radio emission is also blocked during the lunar night.
Hence - Lunar - Side - Place - Low-frequency
"Hence, the lunar far side has been believed as the best place for the low-frequency radio astronomical observation," the researchers wrote in the recent paper.
The paper also detailed the eight scientific payloads...
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