Chinese Spacecraft Sends First Ever Photos Of The Moon's 'Dark Side'

Cesar Mills
January 7, 2019

A Chinese probe has become the first spacecraft to land on the far side of the moon, according to the China National Space Administration (CNSA).

The rover - named Yutu 2, or Jade Rabbit 2 - left the spacecraft, drove off a ramp and began making tracks on the moon's surface at 10.22pm on Thursday, about 12 hours after Chang'e 4 landed.

The moon is tidally locked to Earth, rotating at the same rate that it orbits our planet, so the far side - or the "dark side" - is never visible from Earth. Long before it made global headlines for its top-notch space endeavors, China launched early preparatory missions as early as 2007 to examine the surface on the far side of the moon and later to identify possible landing sites. Previous landings on the Earth-facing side of the moon have been landed remotely from mission control. Previously, the United States and the former Soviet Union were the only countries that had managed Moon landings. "Although Chang'e 4's mission is largely scientific, it is also a key bit of preparation for sending Chinese astronauts to the lunar surface", wrote Palca.

Macau University of Science and Technology professor Zhu Menghua called the landing "absolutely perfect" and a "big milestone" for China's space exploration because of the technical difficulties of landing in an uncharted territory.

Despite the name of Pink Floyd's bestselling album, the side of the moon you can't see isn't always dark.

China will return to the moon in 2020 using the Chang'e 5 spacecraft that will perform lunar surveys and collect samples from the lunar surface and return them to Earth.

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Months back, China launched relay satellites that help the lander and rover to remain in contact with its handlers on Earth despite not being in direct line-of-sight.

The US is the only other country that has carried out moon landings.

China's landing was the first-ever successful "soft-landing", which means a landing without damage, on the far side of the moon.

As reported by the Metro, mission spokesman Yu Guobin said: "The far side of the moon is a rare quiet place that is free from interference of radio signals from Earth".

'The probe will provide important information for studying the origin of stars and nebula evolution'.

The landing for the new rover could have been tricky, since it is descending into one of the largest craters on the Moon and the uneven terrain could cause issues. The 2011 Wolf Amendment to NASA's appropriation bill effectively bars the US space agency from collaborating with China.

Other reports by GizPress

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