I was just reading an article about the satellite that China is putting in Lunar orbit as phase one for their exploration of the far side of the Moon.

Is this satellite just to be used as a signal relayer for when they actually land their rover in a few years? Does it have any other function?


The Queqiao satellite's primary purpose is to relay communications to/from the upcoming Chang'e 4 lander and its rover.

However, it also has scientific targets. In particular it carries a joint Dutch-Chinese low-frequency radio antenna to perform deep space astronomical observations. Its position around the Earth-Moon L2 point puts it partially behind the Moon, giving it some degree of shelter from interference from terrestrial radio signals.

Also included is a retro-reflector which will be used for laser-ranging tests.

Some more information

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    $\begingroup$ Some information about the low-frequency: "The NCLE baseline design concept involves 3 co-located, orthogonal, monopole antenna elements, each of ~5 meters in length. The constellation of these 3 active antennas is mounted perpendicular to the upper side of the satellite body. NCLE will have its optimal sensitivity in the frequency range between 1 and 80 MHz where the highest priority science signals are expected, but will extend down to the kHz regime, albeit with reduced sensitivity." from this page. $\endgroup$ – Uwe May 22 '18 at 14:16
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks @Uwe that's a great source. There's good detail on some other experiments being developed there too $\endgroup$ – Jack May 22 '18 at 15:43

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