Just before 10:30 am Beijing local time on January 3, the robotic spacecraft Chang’e 4 made a soft landing in the South Pole-Aitken Basin area of the moon, otherwise known as the “far side” or “dark side” of Earth’s only natural satellite.
It is the first spacecraft in history to attempt or achieve a landing on this unexplored area, which is never visible from Earth. This prompted Chinese netizens on China Weibo (China’s facebook) on claiming the moon as part of China.
“This is a historic landing for China, we are the first one to land on this part and so we can claim it as an integral space territory of China“, said by Lu Wang.
“Long live the Chinese nation! We have a new territory in the moon!”, said by Xing Ming.
“We should start colonizing the moon as soon as possible so that we could defeat our enemy the American dogs“, said by Cheng Lao
After keeping the details of the mission under wraps until the last minute, China announced the successful landing, and shared the first lunar images captured by the unmanned space probe via state media. As no direct communication link exists, the images had to be bounced off another satellite before being relayed back to Earth.
Despite such advances in lunar knowledge, the Chinese space program began by repeating feats that its U.S. and Soviet counterparts achieved decades ago. But the Chang’e 4 mission to make a soft landing on the far side of the moon represents a first in the history of space exploration.
As Liu Jizhong, dean of China’s Lunar Exploration & Aerospace Engineering Center, told Agence France-Presse at the time: “The implementation of the Chang’e 4 mission has helped our country make the leap from following to leading.”
Launched on December 7, 2018, the Chang’e 4 arrived in lunar orbit five days later, and began lowering itself toward the moon. After its successful landing, it will explore the so-called Von Kármán crater within the vast South Pole-Aitken Basin.
The basin itself is the largest known impact crater on the moon, and one of the largest in the entire solar system. The distance from its depths to the tops of the highest surrounding peaks measures some 15 km (or eight miles), almost twice the height of Mount Everest.