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Chang’e-4

Topic covered:

  1. Awareness in space.

 

Chang’e-4

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: key features and significance of the mission, why study far side of the moon?

Context: Scientists have said they could be a step closer to solving the riddle behind the Moon’s formation, unveiling the most detailed survey yet of the far side of Earth’s satellite.

In January, the Chinese spacecraft Chang’e-4 — named after the moon goddess in Chinese mythology — became the first ever craft to touch down on the far side of the lunar surface.

 

Key findings:

  • China landed its probe in the Von Karmen Crater in the Aitken Basin at the Moon’s south pole — home to one of the largest impact craters known in the solar system.
  • They detected materials such as olivine and low-calcium pyroxene that are rare elsewhere on the surface. Researchers suggest that these materials were ejected from the Moon’s upper mantle when it was struck by a meteor.

 

How was moon born?

The most widely accepted theory is that moon was born when a massive protoplanet slammed into young Earth, sending plenty of terrestrial building blocks into orbit around it.

Scientists suspect that the moon was covered in a magma ocean during its very early days. As it progressively cooled and solidified, denser minerals remained in the ocean’s depths while less dense minerals floated to the surface. This meant the geochemical compositions of the eventual mantle and crust layers turned out to be distinct from each other.

 

About the mission:

  • Chang’e 4 is the fourth mission in the country’s lunar mission series which is being named after the Chinese moon goddess.
  • The tasks of the Chang’e-4 probe include low-frequency radio astronomical observation, surveying the terrain and landforms, detecting the mineral composition, and measuring the neutron radiation and neutral atoms to study the environment on the far side of the moon.

 

Significance of the mission:

According to experts, landing on the far side of the moon is undoubtedly one of the most challenging missions ever launched by any of the world’s superpowers.

 

Sources: The Hindu.