'Total success': China broadcasts images from far side of moon

Eloise Marshall
January 14, 2019

China's Chang'e-4 probe and its rover Yutu-2, took photos of each other on Friday, marking a successful mission to the far side of the moon.

Chang'e-4 was launched from Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in China on 7 December.

The Chang'e-4 probe took 12 minutes to descend onto the moon's surface earlier this month. A photo taken by Yutu also was released showing a small crater no far away.

Chang'e is China's mythological goddess of the Moon. Yutu 2 has a little more freedom to explore, but although it was deployed on January 3, it soon settled down for a nap to avoid overheating during the long lunar day.

Photos of the lander and rover were sent back on Friday marking the success of the Chang'e-4 mission. As the Moon is tidally locked to Earth - its rotation period roughly equals its orbital period - we only get to see one side of our satellite. The far side always points away from Earth, but it is not "dark". There are also very few of the "maria" - dark basaltic "seas" created by lava flows - that are evident on the more familiar near side. When it is in full sunlight, we call it a Full Moon. The far side has the same phases.

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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. It now has resumed its work.

China's Chang'e 4 lunar probe has captured a stunning panoramic picture of the far side of the Moon. Spacecraft equipment is seen around the hole in the center (where the camera is located) in this 360-degree "ring view" with the grey lunar surface beyond.

The Chang'e 4's topographical camera snapped a ring shot, then researchers developed a clear loop image based on the "Bridge Bridge" relay star's data.

The rover on Saturday went into standby mode to protect itself from temperatures reaching towards 200 degrees Celsius (390 degrees Fahrenheit), the China Lunar Exploration Program under the China National Space Administration (CNSA) said.

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