China’s lunar probe Chang’e-4 made the first-ever soft landing on the far side of the moon on January 3, 2019 and the record-breaking temperature recordings show that nights there can get much colder than we ever thought.
Being the first spaceship to have landed on the farther darker and colder side of the moon, the Chinese lunar probe gave a first-hand data about the temperatures on the surface of the far side of the Moon during the lunar night – and the lowest was recorded to be minus 190 degree Celsius (310 degrees Fahrenheit). With the on-hand temperature records received from Chang’e-4, it is clear that the dark side of the moon is much colder than we thought – and much lower than the data obtained by the US Apollo mission on the near side of the Moon.
Chang’e-4 woke up from deep sleep hibernation mode during the lunar night, and had relied on its internal heat sources to survive the extreme weather – something that makes the polar vortex look like a hot tub. After making the first-ever soft landing on moon, Chang’e-4 was put in deep sleep mode for the lunar night, and since one lunar day or night is 14 days long – the was put in dormant mode during the lunar night due to lack of solar power.
To keep itself warm and alive, the rover and the lander carried the radioisotope heat source; while the lander consists of an isotope thermoelectric cell and dozens of temperature data collectors to measure the temperatures on lunar days and nights during its stay. Now that it is day on the moon where Chang’e-4 is, the probe will continue collecting data and information, mostly related to geography and weather. Who knows the Chinese probe might grow even more plants on the lunar surface in the lunar today.