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Dark side of the Moon: China’s great gig in the sky triggers paranoid US (by Ken Livingstone)

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The most amazing event of the new year and perhaps the most significant in our future development was the successful landing of a Chinese space craft for the first time in human history on the far side of the Moon.

This was an amazing technical feat as the robotic probe, Chang’e 4, descended on the unexplored South Pole-Aitken basin. This is the largest impacted structure throughout our whole solar system, caused by a massive collision around four billion years ago.

I remember back in 1959 when, for the first time, we saw photographs of the far side of the Moon. They were beamed back to Earth by the Soviet Union’s Luna 3, which showed remarkable differences with the other side of the Moon. The far side has many more craters and is almost missing the seas of solidified lava that are much more common on the side that faces Earth.

Throughout human history we had never seen the other side of the Moon because the Moon spins on its axis at the same rate as it orbits Earth. Martin Wieser of the Swedish Institute of Space Physics said: “We know the far side from orbital images and satellites, but we don’t know it from the surface. It’s unchartered territory and that makes it very exciting.”

Now, we have seen the first remarkable pictures broadcast from the far side of the Moon after Chang’e 4 released its rover, called Yutu 2, and it drove off the ramp and began cruising across the Moon’s surface just twelve hours after it had landed.

Head of the project, Wu Weiren, called it a “small step for the rover but one giant leap for the Chinese nation.” Over the weeks to come the rover will be testing soil, measuring temperatures and seeking to discover how the Moon was created. It will also try to discover how water originated on the Moon in substantially greater amounts than we ever considered possible.

The reason it has taken so long for this to happen is that as a spacecraft goes behind the Moon it loses all radio contact with Earth which is why in 1962 the US Ranger spacecraft crash landed on the far side and failed to send back any information about what was there.........

© RT.com