The 'dark' side of the moon

The Yutu 2 rover moving farther across the moon's surface

"The Chang'e-4 probe, comprised of a robotic lander and a rover, touched down at the preselected landing area at 177.6 degrees east longitude and 45.5 degrees south latitude on the far side of the Moon at 10:26 a.m. Beijing Time", Chang'e-4 team members said.

China's Chang'e-4 lander-rover spacecraft has landed on the moon's far side - the first in history.

After sending the rover off from a ramp, the spacecraft deployed three 5-metre low-frequency radio antennas, the Chinese space agency said.

"With the communication assistance of the relay satellite Queqiao, the lander sent back the first-ever close-up photograph of the Moon's far side, opening a new chapter in lunar exploration".

This picture taken on December 8, 2018 shows a Long March 3B rocket, transporting the Chang'e-4 lunar rover, lifting off from the Xichang launch centre in Xichang in China's southwestern Sichuan province.

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Like its predecessor, Yutu-2, capable of enduring vacuum pressure, intense radiation, and extreme temperatures is equipped with four scientific payloads, including a panoramic camera, infrared imaging spectrometer and radar measurement devices, to obtain images of the moon's surface and detect lunar soil and structure.

The mission is the first to the side of the moon that faces away from Earth.

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

"It's just the far side, it can be either dark or light", Loeb said, depending on the time of day.

China's space community is taking pride in the successful landing, which posed technical challenges because the moon blocks direct communication between the spacecraft and its controllers on Earth. Both China's space community and public have taken pride in the accomplishment, with some drawing comparisons to the United States. 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.

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