China’s newly invigorated space program has some ambitious goals, and one of them is something that’s never been done before — landing a spacecraft on the far side of the moon. The Queqiao relay satellite, launching today from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China, will provide a vital link back to Earth.
Although it’s sometimes called the “dark side” of the moon, it’s not actually dark. The moon circles the Earth and gets illuminated by the sun in a tidal lock orbit, meaning the orbital period matches its rotational period. In other words, the same side is always facing us, and that’s where nearly all lunar missions have landed.
The Chang’e 4 mission will land on the surface and dispatch a rover for observation and analysis. Direct communication through the enormous mass of the moon is not possible, so Queqiao will provide a relay link to Chinese mission control. It will station itself at a Lagrange Point, a spot of gravitational equilibrium “behind” the moon as viewed from Earth.
The name Queqiao means “bridge of magpies” and it comes from a folklore tale, as the state-owned Xinhuanet media outlet explains: “In a Chinese folktale, magpies form a bridge with their wings on the seventh night of the seventh month of the lunar calendar to enable Zhi Nu, the seventh daughter of the Goddess of Heaven, to cross and meet her beloved husband, separated from her by the Milky Way.”
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As detailed by Spaceflight Insider, Queqiao is part of Chang’e 4, China’s fourth lunar mission. The two Chang’e 1 and Chang’e 2 probes orbited the moon in 2007 and 2010, and Chang’e 3 landed a rover on the moon’s surface in 2013. The experimental Chang’e 5 T1 mission, launched in 2014, sent a capsule around the moon and returned to Earth. The capsule demonstrated its capability by surviving re-entry, and in 2019 Chang’e 5 will land on the lunar surface, collect rock and soil samples, then lift off and return them for scientific study.
Aside from its relay duties, Queqiao also includes a radio scanner known as the Netherlands-China Low-Frequency Explorer. Because it’s in the “shadow” of the moon, unaffected by the Earth’s interference, it can search for ancient radio signals of very low frequencies dating back to the early formation of the universe and perhaps even the Big Bang itself.
“Underlying the strong humming sound from the Milky Way, there are some emissions from the early phase of the universe and it will recur at certain frequencies,” astrophysics professor Heino Falcke told Quartz. “If you don’t have much background noise you may be able to see some certain frequencies and that tells us something about the universe. It requires an extremely quiet environment.”
The lander-rover duo Chang’e 4 will launch and land on the moon later this year, and China has made no secret of their plans for a manned mission to the moon in the future.
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South Africa: Farmer bags life imprisonment for killing farmworker
A Western Cape farmer‚ Martin Visser‚ was sentenced to life imprisonment on Wednesday for the murder of a farmworker‚ Adam Pieterse.
National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said the farmer‚ from Lutzville‚ was also sentenced to three years for assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and six months for assault.
Visser allegedly beat Pieterse with a spade‚ dragged him with a quadbike and then buried him in 2015.
Ntabazalila said there was an “incident” earlier on Wednesday in the cells before Judge Nathan Erasmus sentenced Visser.
It was reported that Visser tried to commit suicide by hanging himself with his jacket.
Ntabazalila said: “An incident took place in the cell and the accused was taken to hospital but he is back now. Defence objected with the sentencing taking place. State objected to that‚ saying the accused was assessed in hospital and tests of concussion were negative. After that sentencing started.”
Ntabazalila added: “Judge Erasmus told the court that an incident took place in the cell. He did not mention what incident it was.”
Visser murdered Pieterse in 2015.
Victor Moses retires from Super Eagles at 26
Super Eagles winger, Victor Moses has announced his retirement from playing for the Super Eagles of Nigeria.
The player represented England at the youth level having grown up in the UK, but later played for Nigeria at the senior national team.
Moses last played for Nigeria against Argentina in the Russia 2018 World, where he produced superb assist.
However, the 26-year-old has announced his retirement from international football with the Eagles via his instagram page on Wednesday evening.
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He wrote, ‘I would like to announce that after much thought I have made the decision to retire from playing international football.
‘’I have experienced some of the best moments of my life wearing the Super Eagles shirt and have memories with me that will last a lifetime. Nothing will ever compete to what it felt like to represent Nigeria on behalf of our country.
‘’However I feel that now is the right time to step away in order to be able to focus fully on club career and my young family as well as to allow the next generation of Super Eagles stars the opportunity to step up and to flourish. We are blessed as a nation to have so many exciting young players coming through and now is their time.
‘’There are so many highlights that stand out for me over the years; from making my debut, to playing in two World Cups and being a part of the team to win the African Nations Cup for first time for our nation since 1994 being just a few of them.
‘’Thank you for the memories and good luck to the team for the future”
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