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To the Moon’s Dark Side, a Race has Began!

China's National Space Administration (CNSA) announced on January 2 that Chang'e-4, a rover, had successfully "soft-landed" on the moon's dark side. (Photo: Farmers Almanac)

There is a new space race starting. It might serve as a roadmap for future lunar exploration. As most of the nations are racing towards the moon’s dark side.

China made the first announcement that it had successfully landed a rover on the moon’s dark side on January 2. (Photo: ILI Team)

According to the article from Slate, if everything goes as planned, spacecraft from Russia and India will reach the moon’s dark side, the south pole of the moon, the following week. Neither humans nor landers have previously visited this region.

A successful landing on the moon’s dark side by either nation would be a scientific first and open the door for future missions by both of these nations as well as others like the United States and China.

Later, those missions will include crews, which is a big deal because no one has visited the moon in more than 50 years. And, likely, those crews will eventually take the lead in building lunar bases, which will have significant effects on both Earth and space.

The next space race does indeed seem to be taking place at the moon’s dark side, the lunar south pole. This race differs from the Soviet-U.S. one for practical, scientific, geopolitical, and astropolitical reasons. one from that decade.

READ ALSO: The Recent Wildfires In Hawaii Were Seen From The Satellite Imagery By The International Space Station

Although neither of the current south pole missions directly involves the United States, these missions will inspire further moon exploration and habitation.

As What TheCipherBrief have published on their site, they also pave the way for a future in which the space-faring nations of the world will once again have to decide between rivalry and cooperation.

The first spacecraft to reach the moon’s surface was Russia’s Luna-2 in 1959, and its Luna-9 spacecraft made the first successful lunar landing in 1966. Luna-24, Russia’s final unmanned mission there, reached its conclusion in 1976. Luna-25, the most recent lander from Russia, was launched on August 11 nearly 50 years later.

However, Luna-25 is not the only spacecraft aiming for the south pole. The spacecraft’s initial landing target date of August 23 was moved up to August 21 primarily to beat India’s moon-bound Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft, which launched in July and also has an August 23 target landing date. (India’s spacecraft has traveled to the moon via a less direct route than Russia’s, in part due to the heavier and larger payload it is carrying.)

Both missions aim to touch down on the treacherous and difficult-to-access moon’s dark side, the south pole of the moon. Much of the area, where temperatures can drop below -300 degrees Fahrenheit, has been in perpetual darkness for billions of years due to the lack of sunlight. However, frozen water, which is crucial for a human future on the moon, may be concealed in this darkness.

The moon’s dark side, the lunar poles, contain trillions of gallons of water ice, as seen by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, India’s Chandrayaan-1, and other spacecraft. But up to this point, those observations have been made from a distance.

Both Russia and India want to verify the existence of water ice firsthand and determine whether there is still more of it below the surface. In addition, Chandrayaan-3 will conduct at least two weeks’ worth of experiments to examine the moon’s surface, atmosphere, and tectonic activity. Luna-25 will drill, gather, and analyze samples during its one-year mission on the moon.

READ ALSO: New Discovery: Astronomers Find Brown Dwarf Star 2000 Degrees Celsius Hotter Than The Sun

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