Chang'e 4 set to land on the far side of the moon between Jan 1-3

China launched the first mission to the moon that is set to make a soft landing on the moon's far side, sometimes called the dark side. The far side of the moon isn't dark, we don't see it from Earth and as such the far side is much less known and studied than the side of the moon we see. Chang'e 4 launched on December 10.

China has confirmed that the mission is on target and is expected to make its historic soft landing on the moon between January 1 and January 3. That is between Tuesday and Thursday of this week. The lander portion of the mission is targeting a touchdown in Von Karman crater.

Scientists are excited about the Chinese mission as it could shed light on the far side of the moon. The moon's far side has a different composition than sites where missions have been conducted on the near side of the moon. The mission still faces unknowns before touch down.

The reason the landing on the far side of the moon is so difficult is that direct communication between the rover and Earth will be blocked. With direct communications with the spacecraft impossible, China is using a relay satellite to send communications to Earth. That satellite is called Queqiao.

China says that it has adjusted the orbit of the probe twice and tested the communication link between the probe and the relay satellite. Tests have also been conducted of the imaging tools and ranging detectors for the spacecraft.