It’s no secret that the “dark side” of the Moon has always attracted the attention and curiosity of many people. From the famous Pink Floyd album to more or less extravagant astronomical studies and theories, artists, scientists, and others have always wondered what was hidden behind the visible part of the Earth’s satellite.
Although expeditions, discoveries, and images have attempted to provide various answers over the years, today there is a vehicle that could paint a truly clear picture as no one has ever managed to do before. What is it about? It is a Chinese rover that explores this hidden and fascinating hemisphere. Let’s see what he discovered.
image credit: CSNA/Siyu Zhang/Kevin M. Gill/Wikimedia
It is called Yutu-2 and it is the first rover to visit this famous dark side of the Moon, which has always been a source of unresolved questions and problems. The craft is part of the Chang’e 4 mission, which started in December 2019 from the Xichang space base, thanks to which it was sent to the Earth satellite with a very specific objective: to explore it like no one. had never done it.
Indeed, the greatest difficulties of such an operation came from the problems of communication with the Earth which could come precisely from the hemisphere that we do not see. However, Yutu-2 managed to send technicians a lot of valuable information, which will be fundamental to better understand how the Moon is made, especially from a geological point of view.
image credit: NASA, Apollo 16/Wikimedia
So what did he discover? First of all, that it is very different from the side that we can see . The dark side is older than the near side, and here the volcanic activity dates back to a period well before the rest of the satellite, for reasons that could be partly related to meteorite impacts . The many rocks and craters resulting from these impacts are proof of this, but there is more. The ground on the “far side” is decidedly stickier: the rover’s wheels had more grip, and the robot was less likely to skid and lose control than on the lunar terrain we know.
image credit: Mark A. Wieczorek / Wikimedia
Yutu-2 also came into contact with greenish, shiny material at the bottom of a crater. This material is similar, but not identical, to other vitreous materials already found in samples from previous missions. This is the first time such an element has been found on the Moon, and it will certainly be interesting to study. It’s like exploring a whole new world,” said Sara Russell, an expert at London’s Natural History Museum, “We have so much to discover on the far side of the Moon, it’s very exciting.”
The hidden and dark face is also quite “silent” from the point of view of terrestrial interference , that is to say from all these waves coming from our own planet. This is very important for possible new astronomical studies that could be based in this very place, ideal for learning more about the depths of space. In short, the exploration has only just begun, but it already looks very promising. We just have to wait and see how the famous “dark side of the moon” can still surprise us!