Chang'e-4: Chinese rover now exploring Moon

Michele Stevens
January 9, 2019

China's Chang'e-4 probe, named after the goddess of the moon in Chinese mythology, is humanity's first mission to land on the far side of the moon.

Lunar rover Yutu-2 has been driving on the far side of the moon after separating from the lander and scientific devices on both the lander and rover are now gathering data, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) said late Friday.

The spacecraft landed at 0226 GMT on January 3 (9:26 p.m. EST on January 2) in the 110-mile-wide (180-kilometer) Von Karman crater, located in the southern hemisphere on the back side of the moon. The next step is for China to build its own space station next year, with the hope of having it operative as early as 2022.

Top officials of the Chinese Space Program have come out this week and expressed their skepticism that the American Moon landings ever happened, reports the Beijing Daily Express.

The moon is tidally locked to Earth in its rotation, so one side always faces us. Despite the moniker, the dark side of the moon does receive sunlight. With Chang'e 4 mission, China becomes the first country to ever successfully reach the far side of the moon.


The rover will also conduct mineral and radiation tests, the China National Space Administration has said, according to state news agency Xinhua.

China was the first to complete a "soft landing", without damage, on the far side of the moon.

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 rover's instruments have to withstand those fluctuations and it has to generate enough energy to sustain itself during the long night. Taken by a camera on board the lander, this image is from the landing site inside Von Karman crater. With the help of ground-penetrating radar, it will allow scientists to study the moon's mysterious "dark side", how its surface interacts with solar wind, and perhaps the process behind the formation of lunar water.

The pioneering achievement is another demonstration of China's ambitions to be a space power.

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