This is the first image sent back to earth from China’s Chang’e-4 probe, the first spacecraft in human history to land on the far side of the moon (at least that world governments are willing to let us know about). Some more info while I daydream I’m there eating moon cheese and crackers and trying to thumb a ride with some aliens:
Navigating to the far side poses a unique communications challenge. Sometimes known as the “dark side” of the moon, even though it does receive sunlight, the far side never faces the Earth because of tidal locking. That means budding human (or robot) explorers have to find a way to establish and maintain radio contact.
China National Space Administration/Xinhua News Agency via Getty Images
To communicate with the Chang’e 4 mission on the moon’s surface, the Chinese space agency launched the Queqiao relay satellite into a halo orbit over the dark side of the moon in May. The satellite overcomes the communications challenge, allowing the lander and rover to phone home, via relay, and send scientific data back.
Honestly, I’m just happy we’re still doing space stuff. It’s depressing to think people don’t care about space anymore, so it’s a refreshing reminder we’re still making an effort. Granted not nearly enough effort to actually save humanity before we destroy earth, but at least we gave it the ol’ college try.
Keep going for a video, which includes the probe’s descent and some animations.
Thanks to beard, who agrees Pink Floyd would be happy.
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