China's Chang'e-4 probe lands on far side of moon

Yutu-2 China's lunar rover leaves wheel marks after leaving the lander that touched down on the surface of the far side of the moon. — AP

The China National Space Administration released a photo taken by the lander showing tracks left by the rover as it departed the spacecraft, though it did not specify how far the rover travelled. The moon's far side, also known as the dark side, is largely unexplored and always faces away from the earth.

"We are pleased that the power equipment of the Chang'e-4 mission is supplied by radioisotope sources of electricity produced in Russian Federation", he said.

China just landed a spacecraft of the dark side of the moon, marking the first time humans have seen what shadowed secrets that mysterious half of the lunar surface hides.

One of the challenges of exploring the far side of the moon is communication.

"The far side of the moon is a rare quiet place that is free from interference of radio signals from Earth", mission spokesman Yu Guobin said, according to Xinhua.

Jade Rabbit 2 drove off a ramp from its lunar lander yesterday to explore the moon's surface.

The rover touched the lunar surface at 10:22 pm (local time) on Thursday, leaving a trace on the soft, snow-like surface. Wu Weiren, chief designer of the lunar exploration project, told the state broadcaster CCTV: "This giant leap is a decisive move for our exploration of space and the conquering of the universe". He posted: "Congratulations to China's Chang'e-4 team for what appears to be a successful landing on the far side of the Moon".

The mission highlights China's growing ambitions to rival the US, Russia and Europe in space, and more broadly, to cement its position as a regional and global power.

Chang'e 4 is carrying six experiments from China and four from overseas, including low-frequency radio astronomical studies, which aim to take advantage of the lack of interference on the far side.

Chang'e 4's images and data come home via a relay satellite called Queqiao, which is parked at a gravitationally stable spot beyond the moon.

The far side is often referred to as the "dark side" because it can not be seen from Earth and is relatively unknown. The vehicle can slant up to 20 degrees and overcome obstacles up to 20 centimeters in size.

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