China's probe sends panoramic image of moon's far side

  • China's probe sends panoramic image of moon's far side

China's probe sends panoramic image of moon's far side

China on Friday broadcast pictures taken by its rover and lander on the moon's far side, in what its space program hailed as another triumph for the groundbreaking mission to the less-understood sector of the lunar surface. After making a soft landing on January 3 at 10:26 am, Chang'e 4 released a lunar rover to roam and survey its surroundings in the Von Karman crater, the moon's largest, oldest and deepest one, located in the South Pole-Aitken basin.

The mission sent the first panoramic image of its landing site Friday, showing the grey moonscape it is exploring and the track marks left by the rover in the lunar soil.

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This is the second Chinese probe to land on the moon, following the Yutu (Jade Rabbit) rover mission in 2013.

"From the panorama, we can see the probe is surrounded by lots of small craters, which was really thrilling", Li said. It is popularly called the "dark side" because it can't be seen from Earth and is relatively unknown, not because it lacks sunlight.

He said the Chang'e-4 landed at an altitude of almost minus 6,000 meters.

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

Yutu-2 is set to rover to the front side of the lander and return an image of the craft, like that taken by its predecessor Yutu for the Chang'e-3 mission above, before continuing to explore using its suite of science instruments.

The Chang'e-4 mission embodies China's hope to combine human wisdom in space exploration, with four payloads developed by the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden and Saudi Arabia.

The CNSA on Friday released several images taken by the Chang'e-4 probe transmitted back via the relay satellite Queqiao.

"Researchers completed the preliminary analysis of the lunar surface topography around the landing site based on the image taken by the landing camera", CLEP said in a statement accompanying the release of the images. The rugged terrain will pose great challenges for planning the route of the rover, said Li.

The deepest region on the moon, with a depth of 9,100m, is about 700km to the south of the probe, Li said.

"The information from the depths of the Moon will be one of our focuses in the exploration", Li said.

The video, lasting about 12 minutes, showed that the probe adjusted its altitude, hovered and avoided obstacles during the descent.