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First-Ever Visit to Dark Side of Moon in the Works

Plans to land probe on moon's far side by 2020
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 9, 2015 8:00 PM CDT

(Newser) – If everything goes to plan with China's space program—which so far everything has since the country launched its first astronaut in 2003—it will become the first country to land a probe on the "dark side of the moon," the AP reports. This week, Zou Yongliao of the Chinese Academy of Sciences announced plans to send a probe designated Chang'e 4 to the moon's far side by 2020, according to the Asia Times. "China will be the first to complete the task if it is successful," Zou said. In 2013, China became the third country to land a probe—Chang'e 3—on the moon, following the United States and Soviet Union.

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China plans to study the geology of the far side of the moon—which is never visible from Earth—in order to put a radio telescope there. The dark side of the moon would be ideal for studying radio waves because the moon itself blocks any interfering waves coming from Earth. However, that also makes landing a probe on the moon's far side more difficult, according to the International Business Times. Without radio signals from Earth, China will require additional satellite technology to communicate with the probe. In the meantime, the AP reports that China will be sending an unmanned spaceship to and from the moon to collect samples in 2017. (NASA recently captured an amazing shot of the far side of the moon.)

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