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China is creating a ‘magpie bridge’ to the far side of the moon

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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.

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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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Protest leader arrested, charged with inciting violence in Zimbabwe.

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Armed police in Zimbabwe have arrested a political activist at his home on Wednesday, his lawyer said.

It comes as protests against fuel price hikes enters day 3 Wednesday. Evan Mawarire, a Harare pastor, rose to prominence as a critic of former leader, Robert Mugabe.

Beatrice Mtetwa is lawyer for Evan Mawarire.



Businesses and schools remain closed while mobile telecom networks enforce a government internet shut down in this Southern African nation.

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“I cannot say the stay away has been successful but at the end of the day we await to hear what the government will do because the people have spoken, they were not happy and up to now they are still in fear”, said Harare resident, Ronald Gwasira.

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“The way it looks people want to go to work but unfortunately it seems the transport operators are not willing to take them”, said Terrence Gumbi, another resident.

Wednesday is the third and final day of stay-at-home protests called by unions in response to the steep hike in fuel prices.

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Kenya: Uhuru Kenyata promises avenge terror attack in Nirobi.

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Kenyan security forces have neutralised all four terrorists involved in the attack on a hotel complex in the capital Nairobi, President Uhuru Kenyatta said on Wednesday.

Kenyatta said about 700 people had been safely evacuated, vowed to avenge the 14 “innocent” lives lost.



“We are a nation that never forgets those who hurt our children. We will pursue relentlessly those involved in the planning and execution of this attack,” the president said.

‘‘I take note of Kenyans who took to social media to spread hope and criticise false information. You have shown the world bravery, patriotism and love.’‘

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he attack in numbers

  • 14 civilians confirmed dead

  • 700 people safely evacuated

  • 4 attackers neutralised

Victims

An earlier estimate put the death toll at 15.

Timeline of the attack

  • Tuesday 3pm (local time): Attack on dusitD2 hotel begins with two explosions

  • Tuesday 5:55pm: Al Shabaab claims responsibility

  • Tuesday night: AU, EU, UN, United States, Somalia condemn the attack

  • Tuesday night : Police announces it has secured 7 out of eight floors

  • Wednesday 6am: Gunshots ring out as police say at least two groups of people still trapped inside complex

  • Wednesday 8am: President Kenyatta declares terror attack and security operation ‘over’.

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