Commentary: Reaching moon’s far side starts new space odyssey

BEIJING, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) — Chang’e-4’s journey to the far side of the moon marks another remarkable achievement in China’s space exploration, and will contribute to better understanding of the moon, the earth and the cosmos.

As nearest heavenly body, the moon has fascinated humankind since we first gazed at the sky. The silver disc in the sky is a key protagonist in our legends, myths and dreams. Its ever-changing face has inspired ambitious aspirations.

We admire its beauty from earth, so why are we so eager to reach the moon?

It’s a link between us and the universe. It inspires our imaginations and dreams of space travel. The moon is still the only extraterrestrial destination visited by human beings.

The moon shares a violent early history with earth. Without the moon, life on earth might be very different. And we might see our past and future through exploration of the moon.

Because of the tidal locking effect, we only see one side of the moon from earth, and the far side remains a mystery. It’s also called the dark side, although it’s not darker than the near side. The word “dark” only shows how we feel about the unknown.

Mark Twain said everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.

Nobody had ever seen the far side of the moon before the Soviet Union launched the Luna 3 probe in 1959. It was the first-ever mission to photograph the far side.

The United States Apollo 8 mission sent three astronauts around the moon in 1968, the first time humans saw the moon’s far side with their own eyes.

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