In a spaceflight first, China’s Chang’e-4 has landed where no spacecraft has touched down in one piece before: the far side of the moon. “This is a historic step in international scientific exploration of the moon, opening up the ‘Luna Incognita’ of the lunar far side to surface exploration for the first time,” said James Head, a planetary scientist at Brown University.
If successful, the mission could answer fundamental questions about Earth’s only natural satellite. There are still mysteries, for example, about the moon’s formation and early evolution, which, in turn, hold clues to the history of the entire solar system. Additionally, the mission will conduct the first radio astronomy experiments from the moon’s far side and the first investigations to see whether plants can grow on the moon — a crucial step toward long-term human missions beyond Earth.