n a giant leap for China’s space program, a Chinese probe has become the first to ever land on the far side of the moon.
The Chang’e-4 probe landed in the unexplored South Pole-Aitken basin, the largest, oldest, and deepest basin on the moon’s surface, Chinese state media reported on Thursday afternoon. The historic landing came at 10:26 am Beijing time.
— CGTN (@CGTNOfficial) January 3, 2019
Previous moon missions have mostly focused on the Earth-facing side of the moon. Spacecraft have taken photos of the moon’s far side, but no landing had ever been attempted there. The Chang’e-4 will carry out geological tests at the Aitken basin to try to learn more about its origin. It is believed that the basin was formed very early in the moon’s history through a major cataclysm which punched all the way through to the mantle.
However, the value of this expedition is not only scientific; it also provides a major propaganda and confidence boost for the fledgling Chinese space program. This marks the first time that China has completed a significant space mission that was not already performed previously by the US or Russia.