Chinese Lander Discovers Lunar Night Colder Than Anticipated


The China National Space Administration (CNSA) announced on Thursday (Jan. 31) that the lander and rover both survived their first trial by ice.

The two devices had successfully completed their mission during the first lunar day (approximately 28 earth days), including sending the first photo of the moon's far side.

The static lander, which launched on 7 December, touched down at 10:26 am Beijing time on 3 January in the South Pole-Aitken basin.

Chang'e 4 and Yutu 2 are the first probes to explore the far side of our nearest neighbor, so the data they return will be one of a kind.

This is the first time Chinese scientists have received first-hand data about the temperatures on the surface of the moon during the lunar night.

As a result of the tidal locking effect, the moon's revolution cycle is the same as its rotation cycle, and the same side of the moon always faces Earth. The soil is also much colder than that on the near side of the Moon.

"According to information submitted to the lunar probe to Earth, the night temperature in January on the surface of the back side of the moon drops to minus 190 degrees Celsius", - noted in the Chinese Corporation aerospace science and technology. Previously, the Chinese scientists had no data on exactly how cold it could be.

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They were lower than those recorded by previous U.S. missions to the near side of the moon, Zhang He, executive director of the Chang´e-4 mission, told Xinhua news agency. "We still need more careful analysis", Zhang was quoted as saying by the state-run Xinhua news agency. They were put to sleep as night fell roughly two weeks ago at the mission's Von Kármán Crater landing site.

The rover and the lander carried the radioisotope heat source, which helped keep the probe warm during the lunar night.

The probe will now continue with it´s experiments, CNSA said.

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 neutron radiation and neutral atoms.

NASA's Curiosity rover also adopts this power technology, freeing it from the sunshine, sand and dust restrictions that have affected its predecessors Opportunity and Spirit, he explained.

China has launched a ground-breaking mission to land a spacecraft on the largely unexplored far side of the moon, demonstrating its growing ambitions as a space power to rival Russian Federation, the European Union and the US.

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