CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - For the first time ever, a rover is exploring the dark side of the moon. But not an American mission, this is a victory for the Chinese. But space industry insiders say it’s going to ratchet up the spirit of competition.
There is also great potential for discovery on the far lunar surface. The Chinese probe, named Chang’e-4, is gathering samples that could help China understand the moons history, how it evolved, learn more about its mineral composition, the vehicle will even conduct experiments to see if seeds can survive and grow on the moon.
“They targeted this, to their credit, it’s a smart move on their part,” said Dale Ketcham, a Vice President for Space Florida.
Ketcham says if more vehicles and equipment can be sent to the dark side, there is enormous potential for radio astronomy, looking at far away objects in space and listening for signals.
“It has no interference whatsoever from human activity, so they will have a much clearer picture,” Ketcham said.
At some point, late in our next decade, China wants to have a moon base for astronauts. The U.S. wants one of those too, and some of the law on the moon has already been established, in the 1967 Space Treaty.
“We are only a couple of months away from the Israelis putting a lander on the moon and then before the end of the summer the Indians will put one on the moon, so space and the moon in particular, is becoming crowded and contested and competitive, so that’s going to force us to keep our game up,” Ketcham said.