China has made the Moon exciting again.
At the start of the year, the country’s space agency dropped a lander and rover on the far side of the Moon, a place we’ve photographed but never visited. Named Chang’e 4, the mission is up there now studying the geology of the Moon’s surface. It’s even doing a bit of astronomy, from its uniquely quiet viewpoint. What it finds will help us understand the Moon’s past: how it formed and why the far side is so different from the bit we see. But perhaps more excitingly, Chang’e 4’s roving could tell us what’s in store for the Moon’s future.
By digging into the Moon’s geology, particularly on the far side, Chang’e 4 could spot vital resources. On the one hand, there are precious treasures up there that we need on Earth, like helium-3 (a useful fuel) and rare-earth metals. On the other hand, this geological intel can provide a clearer picture of what building materials are available for a future lunar mission. Similarly, data gathered on the amount of radiation experienced on the Moon will help shape the manned lunar missions that China hopes to launch in the next decade. That’s just scratching the surface, though, as the mission is dripping with promise. To find out what Chang’e 4 has in store for us, and how it might stoke a new generation of space exploration, check out the new issue of BBC Focus.
And finally, next month our magazine is getting a refresh. Don’t worry, we’ll still be the magazine you know and love, but we have taken this opportunity to listen to your feedback and make some of the changes you’ve been asking for. Make sure you pick up a new-look issue on 6 March (we’re pretty excited about it!).
A new race to the Moon
China’s Chang’e 4 lunar mission has landed. Could this be the start of a new space race?
Gotta scan ’em all
Adam Summers is on a mission to image every fish in the sea… using a CT scanner.
Are accents dying out?
Eh up, chaps. The way we speak is changing, and new research can help us find out why.
We find out about aphantasia, a condition where you cannot ‘see’ things in your mind.
A new theory of life
Move over, biology, it’s physics’ turn to enjoy the spotlight.
Is bad careers advice putting girls off science?
We did some research to pinpoint what’s turning girls off studying STEM.
- Why do the British talk about the weather so much?
- Am i helping or hindering the bee population by eating honey?
- If nothing can escape a singularity, how did the Universe manage it?
Eye opener – A penguin that stands out from the crowd and a high-tech coal warehouse in Taiwan.
Discoveries – The month’s biggest science news stories.
Aleks Krotoski – How predictions and groundhogs help us exert control over our lives.
Michael Mosley – Is this the new 5:2 diet?
Innovations – Helen Glenny reports on her favourite tech from the annual CES show in Las Vegas.
Out there – Science books, activities and days out.
Crossword – Give your grey matter a workout.
My life scientific – With plasma physicist Dr Melanie Windridge.