China launches Chang’e-4 lunar probe

CHINA-SICHUAN-XICHANG-CHANG'E-LUNAR PROBE-LAUNCH (CN)China launches Chang’e-4 lunar probe in the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, Dec. 8, 2018.  (Xinhua/Jiang Hongjing)

XICHANG, Dec. 8 (Xinhua) — China’s Chang’e-4 lunar probe was launched in the early hours of Saturday, and it is expected to make the first-ever soft landing on the far side of the moon.

A Long March-3B rocket, carrying the probe including a lander and a rover, blasted off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China’s Sichuan Province at 2:23 a.m., opening a new chapter in lunar exploration.

The scientific tasks of the Chang’e-4 mission include low-frequency radio astronomical observation, surveying the terrain and landforms, detecting the mineral composition and shallow lunar surface structure, and measuring the neutron radiation and neutral atoms to study the environment on the far side of the moon, the China National Space Administration announced.

China has promoted international cooperation in its lunar exploration program, with four scientific payloads in the Chang’e-4 mission developed by scientists from the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden and Saudi Arabia.

Saturday’s launch was the 294th mission of the Long March rocket series.

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