Chinese Rover Lands on Dark Side of the Moon, First Photos Released

Dark side of the Moon photo 1 photo
Photo: CNSA
One day after NASA announced a historic encounter between its New Horizons spacecraft and the Ultima Thule celestial body 6.5 billion km (4.03 billion miles) from Earth, another major space exploration event took place this week, but much closer to home.
Just as promised since the end of last year, the Chinese Chang'e-4 lander and rover descended to the surface of the Moon, on the side it never shows to us, marking the first time a human-made machine arrived there.

The mission that carried the rover to the Moon launched on December 8 on top of a Long March-3B rocket, which took off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in the Sichuan Province. The mission arrived in lunar orbit on December 12.

Soon after it landed, the rover got to work and took a photo or two of its landing site, and already sent them back to Earth. The first two photos were published a short time ago by the Chinese Space Agency (CNSA).

The Chang'e-4 landed in the Von Karman Crater, located in the southern hemisphere. The images show a close-up of the lunar surface as seen below the lander (black and white), and a horizon look of the south side of the landing site (color).

The next order of business is to have the lander scan its surroundings using cameras, ground-penetrating radar and spectrometers.

The goal of the mission is to identify the composition of the soil in the region and learn more about a part of the Earth satellite never studied by humans.

Onboard Chang'e-4 is an experiment never attempted before. Potato and Arabidopsis plant seeds enclosed in a mini biosphere have been sent to the Moon to see how they breathe and use photosynthesis in these harsh surroundings.

Chang'e-4 is a Chinese-led project but was developed with the help of scientists from Germany and Sweden. It comprises two pieces of hardware, the main lander, and a rover and has been built initially as a backup for the 2013 Chang’e-3 mission.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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