Officials inside China’s lunar exploration programme have confirmed that they plan to launch the Chang’e-4 mission in December. If successful, the Chang’e-4 mission will be the first to make a soft-landing on the far side of the moon.
As the Chang’e-4 mission will take place on the far side of the moon, the mission requires a relay point to allow operators on Earth to send commands to the lander and rover on the lunar surface. The Queqiao relay satellite was launched successfully from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre late last month and reached an EM-LW halo orbit on June 15. Achieving a successful orbit was a major step for China’s lunar ambitious and was the last variable required to begin planning the launch of the Chang’e-4 payload.
The Chang’e-4 lander is equipped with a number of scientific equipment and experiments. One of the most interesting of these experiments features a 18x16cm tube that is to be used to hatch silkworms. The ambitious experiment includes potato and Arabidopsis seeds, the container will include water, air, and a nutrient solution. It is hoped that the tube will house the development of a self-contained environment capable of supporting life.
Featured image credit: Chinese Academy of Sciences