Published: Tue, January 08, 2019
Science | By Michele Flores

Chinese rover begins exploring far side of the moon

Chinese rover begins exploring far side of the moon

The far side has been observed many times from lunar orbits, but never explored on the surface.

Photos of the rover leaving "humankind's first tracks" were sent back to Earth by the lander after the rover separated from it. Wu Weiren, chief designer of the lunar mission for the China National Space Administration, called the separation "a small step for the rover, but one giant leap for the Chinese nation".

The collection of data from the invisible side of the moon began with the Jadehase 2 robotic vehicle, the vehicle carried by the Chinese satellite Chang'e 4, which for some hours has been laid on the moon side that we cannot see.

The six-wheeled rover, known as Yutu 2, isn't pausing to catch its breath, as a newly released photo shows.

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"The landing on the far side shows China's technology is powerful", said He Qisong, a space expert at the East China University of Science and Law in Shanghai. Because the moon blocks direct communication from the far side, to transmit images from the probe back to earth, China had to build a separate relay satellite. While the USA, Russia and China have all successfully landed spacecraft on the side of the moon that faces earth, China alone has just landed on the "far" or "dark" side.

"The Chang'e-4, carrying eight payloads, will conduct low-frequency radio astronomical observation, survey the terrain and landforms, detect the mineral composition and shallow lunar surface structure and measure the neutron radiation and neutral atoms to study the environment on the far side of the Moon".

The Chang'e 4 lunar probe mission - named after the moon goddess in Chinese mythology - was launched in December from the southwestern Xichang launch center. When there's a full moon in our sky, the far side is dark. "We Chinese people have done something that the Americans have not dared try."China plans to put astronauts on a lunar base in about 10 years". "The U.S. sees pretty much everything China does in space - including things the U.S. has done in space - as threatening". The other side, most of which can not be seen from the Earth, is called the far side or dark side because most of it is uncharted. It can climb a 20-degree hill or an obstacle up to 8 inches tall.

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