The Milky Way Base: China names Chang’e-4 probe’s moon landing site ‘Statio Tianhe’ – combining ancient Chinese and Latin words
- Change’e-4’s moon landing site has been named as The Milky Way Base
- The name combines the Mandarin word sky-river and a Latin word for base
- It has also named four sites close by including three craters and a peak
- The names allude to an ancient folk tale of two lovers meeting on the moon
The landing site on the Moon of space shuttle Chang’e-4 has been officially named ‘Statio Tianhe’ or The Milky Way Base, in a Beijing conference today.
The names, which were also given to three craters and a peak nearby, were agreed upon by the China National Space Administration, Chinese Academy of Sciences and the International Astronomical Union.
Naming landing locations on planets is common practice, precedent ed by the United States and the former Soviet Union on their lunar explorations.
The Chinese names allude to ancient folklore, with the term Tianhe meaning Milky Way, its literal translation being ‘sky-river’ in Mandarin.
The Latin ‘Statio’ which means base, is also part of the landing site name.
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The landing site on the Moon of space shuttle Chang’e-4 has been officially named ‘Statio Tianhe’ or The Milky Way Base, in a Beijing conference today
Three craters which were identified close to landing site were also named Zhinu (weaver girl), Hegu (river drum) and Tianjin, a location that which are three constellations of ancient Chinese astrology.
They allude to an ancient folklore tale about the ‘weaver girl’ and her banished lover, a ‘cowherder boy’.
They are separated by the milky way and can only meet once a year on a bridge formed by magpies, known as Queqiao, the name given to China’s relay satellite on the dark side of the moon.
This special day, Qixi falls on the 7th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar each year, often referred to as ‘Chinese Valentine’s Day’.
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The names, which were also given to three craters and a peak nearby, were agreed upon by the China National Space Administration, Chinese Academy of Sciences and the International Astronomical Union. ‘Hegu’ (pictured) which means River Drum
Naming landing locations on planets is common practice, precedent ed by the United States and the former Soviet Union on their lunar explorations. Tianjin (pictured)
The Chinese names allude to ancient folklore, with the term Tianhe meaning Milky Way, its literal translation being ‘sky-river’ in Mandarin. Taishan or Mount Tai (pictured) is the peak found near the landing site and the name of a famous Chinese mountain.
A TIMELINE OF HOW CHINA REACHED THE FAR SIDE OF THE MOON
Chang’e-4 launched from the Xichang satellite launch centre in Sichuan, south-west China at 6:30 GMT on December 7
October 24 2007 – China launches Chang’e-1, an unmanned satellite, into space where it remains operational for more than a year.
October 1 2010 – China launches Chang’e-2. This was part of the first phase of the Chinese moon programme. It was in a 100-km-high lunar orbit to gather data for the upcoming Chang’e-3 mission.
September 29, 2011 – China launched Tiangong 1.
September 15 2013 – A second space lab, Tiangong 2, is launched.
December 1 2013 – Chang’e-3 launched.
December 14 2013 – Chang’e-3, a 2,600 lb (1,200 kg) lunar probe landed on the near side of the moon successfully. It became the first object to soft-land on the Moon since Luna 24 in 1976.
April 1 2018 – Tiangong-1 crashed into Earth at 17,000 mph and lands in the ocean off the coast if Tahiti.
May 20 2018 – China launched a relay satellite named Queqiao which is stationed in operational orbit about 40,000 miles beyond the moon. This is designed to enable Chang’e-4 to communicate wit engineers back on Earth.
The Chang’e-4 lunar rover is lifted into space from the Xichang launch centre in Xichang in China’s southwestern Sichuan province on December 7
December 7 2018 – Chinese space agency announces it has launched the Chang’e-4 probe into space.
December 12 2018 – Retrorockets on the probe fired to stabilise the spacecraft and slow it down.
December 31 2018 – The probe prepared for the first-ever soft landing on the far side of the moon.
Estimated for 2020 – Tiangong 3,a follow-up mission to the Tiangong-2
Before 2033 – China plans for its first uncrewed Mars exploration program.
2040 – 2060 – The Asian superpower is planning a crewed mission to Mars.
China successfully achieved a global first with its trip to the far side of the moon when it landed in the Von Kármán crater on January 4, 2019.
The country has claimed it wants to be the first country to establish a base on the moon and says it will build it using 3D printing technology.
Officials from the Chinese space agency also said the country will return to the moon by the end of the year with the Chang’e-5 mission.
Three successive missions will further explore the barren surface and the viability of building houses there.
There have been numerous landings on the moon as a result of the 20th century space race between the US and the USSR – including the famed Apollo 11 mission which saw Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin become the first humans on the moon. After Luna 24 landed on August 18 the next lunar landing was the Chinese mission Chang’e-3 on December 14, 2013. Chang’e-4 is the first spacecraft to land on the far side of the moon
The mission’s rover is equipped with a variety of scientific instruments to help it analyse the surface of the moon, including a panoramic and infrared camera, ground-penetrating radar and a low-frequency radio spectrometer
China is swiftly establishing a reputation as one of the forerunners in the renaissance of the space race with its continued investment in both Martian and lunar missions.
After Chang’e-5 returns lunar rocks from the surface the next mission, Chang’e-6 will be the first mission to explore the south pole of the moon.
Chang’e-7 will study the land surface, composition and space environment in a comprehensive mission, it was claimed, while Chang’e-8 will focus on technical surface analysis.
Mission number eight will likely lay the groundwork for a potential lunar base as it strives to verify the technology earmarked for the ambitious project.
China National Space Administration (CNSA) said they also have plans to go to Mars in 2020, a timeline that would likely make them the first to do so, beating out the US, Russia and the plethora of private firms looking to colonise space.
WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF CHINESE SPACE EXPLORATION?
Officials from the Chinese space agency have said the country will return to the moon by the end of 2019 with the Chang’e-5 mission.
This will collect rocks from the near side of the moon and return them to Earth for further study.
Chang’e-6 will be the first mission to explore the south pole of the moon.
Chang’e-7 will study the land surface, composition, space environment in a comprehensive mission, it was claimed, while Chang’e-8 will focus on technical surface analysis.
China is also reportedly working on building a lunar base using 3D printing technology.
Mission number eight will likely lay the groundwork for this as it strives to verify the technology earmarked for the project and if it is viable as a scientific base.
China’s space agency the China National Space Administration (CNSA) also say they want to travel to mars by 2020.
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