Humans have a preoccupation with trying to understand the reasons for their existence. Visiting other planets to search for other living beings is a major part of this mindset. Being the closest natural satellite to Earth, the moon has always been a source of fascination. On December 2, 2013, the People’s Republic of China sent a space probe to the moon. Here are six reasons why this mission proves so exciting to the world.
No nation has landed a craft in this manner since 1976. The Chinese are reinvigorating interest in visiting outer space. Back in 1976, everyone was enthusiastic about space travel and exploration, but after the moon landing, many people lost interest. This new mission has caused a resurgence of interest in both space exploration as well as interest in learning about the moon.
The United States and Russia are the two previous nations to visit the moon. This successful mission helps enhance China’s role as a world leader. Another historic fact worth mentioning is that China is the first nation located fully on the Asian continent to enjoy prominence in outer space exploration. In this respect, the Chinese Moon Mission is an example of the democratizing potential of scientific discovery.
The Chinese mission benefits from contemporary technological advancement. Coming almost four decades after the American and Russian landings, the China Moon Mission’s probes can perform more tasks than could those of their predecessors. The probes can survey the landscape to discern the optimal spot for landing.
There is some potential in this mission to locate new usable sources that could be beneficial to us as humans. The Chinese plan to locate sources of Helium-3, a mineral very rarely found on earth. Helium-3 has potential for use as an energy source for fusion reactors and in micro manufacturing. These rare minerals are helpful for mechanical parts that are used in industrial engineering and other industries that effect our daily lives.
Much of the work done by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) during the 1960s was secret. The space race with the Russians necessitated keeping information private. In contrast, the Chinese have involved the public in its latest mission. An online poll allowed the people to name the lunar probe. They chose the name Yutu, or Jade Rabbit, who is the pet of the Chinese moon goddess.
The Russians and Americans engaged in a much discussed space race during the 1960s and 1970s. Each nation attempted to outdo the other. Doing so required them to launch rockets and other spacecrafts on a regular basis, at times monthly. The Chinese have taken a more methodical approach to space exploration. The Chinese average one mission per year. They unequivocally deny any attempt to start a competition with other nations. In their perspective, advancements in space should benefit the entire world, not a specific nation.
The Chinese Moon Mission may dramatically change the world’s perception of who should conduct research in space. The United States and Russia have dominated space exploration traditionally. Now, a third power is on the horizon.