Chang’e 4 on the Farside

The Chinese lander Chang’e 4 on the farside of the moon spotted by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter’s LROC camera.

NASA; Chang’e 4, the second Chinese lunar lander, set down on a relatively small farside mare basalt deposit that is extensively mixed with highland ejecta from the nearby and relatively young Finsen crater (73 kilometer or 45 mile diameter). Scientists have long wanted to know the composition of farside basalts; are they significantly different from the nearside basalts? According to the China National Space Administration, Chang’e 4 instrumentation includes the visible near infrared spectrometer (VNIS) which takes measurements that can be used to address this question. This new information from the surface will provide important ground truth, while the combination of on-surface and orbital measurements provides synergy that will advance knowledge of the farside.

Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University.

Mark Robinson
Arizona State University

Nancy Neal Jones
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center