NASA recently released a photo that shows China’s Chang’e 4 lander on the far side of the moon. While China’s lunar mission is considered a part of the space race, it is also not the first time that the United States and China shared information and worked together.
NASA recently released a photo taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, showing the location of China’s Chang’e 4 lander in the Von Kármán crater. The lander, which is around the size of a car, can be seen merely two pixels in length and being pointed at by two white arrows, while the rover cannot be seen in the photograph. Behind the tiny rover is the mountain range that is the west wall of the Von Kármán crater, which is 116 miles (186 kilometers) in diameter.
It is where Chang’e spacecraft made the world’s first soft landing on the far side of the moon on Jan. 3. The crater is named after Theodore von Kármán, who was the lead scientists of United States’ early space program, and was a mentor to the founder of China’s own space program, Hsue-shen Tsien.
In past years, NASA was not allowed to cooperate with China on space activities thanks to the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015, which prohibits NASA from spending funds to develop, design, collaborate, or coordinate with China or other Chinese-owned companies. Because of this, the agency was only able to collaborate with China if they have notified Congress in advance and have gained its approval.
As such, NASA and the China National Space Administration’s collaboration on Chang’e 4 is considered as a one-time thing. That said, some experts believe that the prohibitions against working with China may be lowered, especially with Democrats in control of the Congress. Furthermore, both NASA and CNSA have agreed to share all the information that they may gather from the collaboration with the international research community.