China's lunar lander, rover 'wake up' after first lunar night

China's lunar lander and rover 'wake up' after two-week nap

Data from the Apollo missions had already revealed that the moon's sunlit surface can climb to 260 degrees Fahrenheit (127 degrees Celsius) during the day, and drop to minus 280 F (minus 173 C) at night.

Chang'e 4 lifted off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in the province of Sichuan on December 7, 2018 (EST) and reached lunar orbit on Dec 12, 2018.

With its Chang'e 4 mission, China hopes to be the first country to make a soft landing, which is a landing of a spacecraft during which no serious damage is incurred, reports.

The Chang'e-4 lander, imaged by the Yutu-2 rover, on the far side of the Moon in January 2019. If successful, the mission would propel the Chinese space program to a leading position in one of the most important areas of lunar exploration.

It will also perform radio-astronomical studies that, because the far side always faces away from Earth, will be "free from interference from our planet's ionosphere, human-made radio frequencies and auroral radiation noise", space industry expert Leonard David wrote on the website Space.

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LRO has previously used its camera to image the Chang'e-3 lander and rover numerous times at the landing site in Mare Imbrium on the lunar near side. This phenomenon is termed "tidal locking".

A lunar day equals 14 days on Earth and a lunar night is of the same length. The challenge to find pieces of earth on the moon was taken up by research scientists Jeremy Bellucci and Alexander Nemchin of Swedish Museum of Natural History and they were joined in by Australia's Curtin University. But that far side does appear to get colder at night.

If it successfully returns with samples, the Chang'e 5 probe will be the first spacecraft to return samples since the Soviet Union's Luna 24 brought back moon rock in 1976. The two devices work normally and communicate with the ground and transmit data stably through the relay satellite Queqiao.

The United States space agency said Friday that its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) is expected to image the landing site of China's lunar lander Chang'e-4 on January 31.

Yutu-2 will continue to rove and explore, analysing the variations of composition of the lunar surface and SPA melt sheet with the Visible and Near-Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (VNIS), examine the subsurface with the Lunar Penetrating Radar (LPR), and provide insight into the space environment and interactions with the surface with the Advanced Small Analyser for Neutrals (ASAN) developed in Sweden.

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