China’s Rover Makes Historic Discovery on the Dark Side of the Moon
In 2018, China sent the Chang’e 4 spacecraft to the moon, which included the lunar module, the Yutu-2 rover.
As the Yutu-2 sent its data back to Earth, Chinese scientists got to work studying the new information, and they found an incredible discovery that could change everything we know about our planet’s only moon.
China’s Successful Chang’e 4 Mission
The Chang’e 4 was not China’s first successful lunar mission; in fact, the Chang’e 3 also landed on the moon a few years earlier.
But while the Chang’e 4 spacecraft was originally built as a backup for the Chang’e 3, its advanced technology and performance possibilities have made the Chang’e 4 the most impressive mission to date.
The Impressive Jade Rabbit-2
Aboard the Chang’e 4 spacecraft was the Yutu-2 rover, which means the Jade Rabbit-2 in Mandarin.
The Jade Rabbit-2, or the Yutu-2 as it’s formally named, is an incredibly impressive lunar module. It weighs 310 pounds and has six wheels, but the most valuable aspect of the Yutu-2 is its advanced technology.
Yutu-2’s Groundbreaking Technology
While the Yutu-2 has a wide variety of new technological advances, arguably, the most important is the Lunar Penetrating Radar (LPR).
LPR essentially allows for the mapping of lunar structures far beneath the moon’s surface through radio signals similar to echolocation used by bats. Yutu-2 sends radio signals that penetrate the surface of the moon and then analyzes the echoes sent back to the rover.
What Exactly Did the Yutu-2 Find?
The LPR data collected by the Yutu-2 is incredibly interesting. It found that the moon is not only made up of rocks but also has hidden layers of lava beneath the surface.
Before the Yutu-2, no lunar rover had been able to penetrate more than 40 feet within the moon itself, and this new discovery has inaugurated a wide variety of theories among scientists and astrophysicists around the world.
What Do the Findings Mean?
Finding lunar lava under the surface of the moon is a wildly important discovery, but what it means is still up for debate.
Some believe that the lava was made by large structures, such as asteroids, colliding with the moon. In this case, the asteroids and lava created the many craters we can see on the face of the moon today.
Was the Moon Once Part of Our Planet?
Other scientists state that our moon was actually once part of the Earth and that it was detached due to a giant asteroid collision about 4.51 billion years ago.
Those who believe this theory hypothesize that when the moon broke away, there were a series of volcanic explosions, therefore, leading to the newly-found lava within its rock.
Does the Moon Still Have Magma in its Core?
For years, we have believed that the moon is simply one big rock, though the new research has sparked the question: Does the moon have magma in its core?
Most scientists agree that the moon’s volcanic activity likely stopped about 1 billion years ago, though some now think that there could be some magma left inside.
The Dark Side of the Moon
It’s important to understand that while the Yutu-2’s findings are certainly interesting and important, even the landing of the rover would have been considered an important feat.
The Yutu-2 is the first ever lunar rover to land on what humans have always called “The Dark Side of the Moon.” Scientists know it as “the lunar far side,” but no matter what it’s called, humankind has never known what was there – until now.
No Updates Yet from China’s Mars Rover
China has always been incredibly interested in space exploration, though it seems the country is now putting more energy than ever into finding out exactly what is going on in our solar system.
In fact, China currently has a rover wandering around the surface of Mars called the Zhurong. However, the world has yet to receive any updates from the module on the Red Planet. Many are hoping that Zhurong is simply waiting out the harsh Mars winter and that we will know more about Mars in the very near future.
China Celebrates its Historic Discovery
With China’s biggest annual celebration, Golden Week, only a month away, the country is planning to celebrate its historic discovery with various events and information centers in the capital.
The China National Space Administration has created interactive displays at science museums for adults and children alike to learn about Yutu-2’s incredible findings.
Chinese Lunar Exploration Program Will Continue
The Yutu-2 rover is, in fact, still on the dark side of the moon, wandering around and collecting data just as it has been for the past four years.
Although the Chang’e 4 is certainly not the last of China’s lunar exploration program, and we’re not quite sure what’s next, we can expect more missions in the near future and, possibly, much more information about our planet’s only moon.