Next China lunar lander aimed for farside south pole

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The competition heats up: China announced plans today to send its next lunar lander, Chang’e 4, to the Moon’s farside south pole in 2018.

The lander of Chang’e-4 will be equipped with descent and terrain cameras, and the rover will be equipped with a panoramic camera, he said. Like China’s first lunar rover Yutu, or Jade Rabbit, carried by Chang’e-3, the rover of Chang’e-4 will carry subsurface penetrating radar to detect the near surface structure of the moon, and an infrared spectrometer to analyze the chemical composition of lunar samples.

But unlike Chang’e-3, the new lander will be equipped with an important scientific payload especially designed for the far side of the moon: a low-frequency radio spectrometer. “Since the far side of the moon is shielded from electromagnetic interference from the Earth, it’s an ideal place to research the space environment and solar bursts, and the probe can ‘listen’ to the deeper reaches of the cosmos,” Liu said.

The U.S. had been in the lead in the land rush to gain dominance in the possibly water-rich lunar south pole. We apparently have lost this lead with decision of President Obama and Congress to focus elsewhere, either the asteroids or Mars.


One comment

  • LocalFluff

    I love how the Chinese push the limits everytime. Much fewer launches but much faster progress. How will they communicate with Earth from the far side of the Moon? I guess that the spacecraft dropping off the lander will continue to L2 and work as a reley between the far side and Earth. They’ve used a Lagrange point earlier. And the poles are the most interesting places to land now. They take on three new frontiers with one mission.

    Congress recently directed NASA to prioritize the Moon, didn’t they? This might be the beginning of a new space race. International cooperation does not seem to trend so well right now, basically because the EU, a political bridge between continents, is breaking down and dissolving in bankruptcy and violence.

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