India, like China before, is getting ready to land on the far side of the moon. The lander carrying India’s first rover to explore the moon seperated from the mothership and is expected to land on the moon’s surface today (Sept 6, EDT).
The last moon mission that drew a lot of international attention was the landing of a Chinese space craft on the dark side of the moon in January of 2019 (launch date in December 2018), as our graphic shows. For the first time in history, a rover shed light into the workings of the moon’s far side that has been long shrouded in mystery. Chang’e 4 will shoot pictures of the side of the moon permanently turned away from Earth as well as examine its geology via radar and spectrometers.
As NASA records show, several nations have ventured towards the moon in the last 15 years, a contrast to the early age of moon exploration in the 1960 and 1970s, when the U.S. and Russia were the world’s only spacefaring nations. China has sent the most missions to the moon in the previous 15 years, starting in 2007.
But other nations haven’t looked on idly while the relatively new Chinese space agency was making headway. Even though only India managed another rover program, the USA, most notably, proved the existence of small quantities of water at the moon’s south pole with a combined orbiter and impactor mission in 2009. The European Space Agency ESA, as well as the Japanese space agency accomplished their own successful moon orbits. While the EU was testing a new solar–powered ion drive, the Japanese carried out geological survey.