China broadcasts photos from 'dark' side of the moon

This composite image made available by NASA in 2011 shows the far side of Earth’s moon.
NASA  Goddard  Arizona State University via AP  
AP

Chinese astronomers have made a preliminary analysis of the terrain and landform surrounding the location of the probe and its Yutu rover, now near the Von Karman Crater in the South Pole-Aitken Basin.

China on Friday (January 11) announced that the Chang'e-4 mission, the first-ever probe to land on the Moon's dark side, was a "complete success" as it transmitted images back to earth through a special relay satellite, according to a PTI report.

China's lunar probe has sent the first panoramic image of its landing site since its historic arrival on the far side of the moon, showing the cratered landscape it is exploring.

A rover dubbed Yutu-2 - the name of the moon goddess's pet, the "Jade Rabbit" - successfully separated from the lander and drove onto the moon's surface yesterday.

The 308-pound rover, part of China's Chang'e-4 mission, initially went on a standby mode on Saturday to protect itself from the heat on the moon's surface, which can reach upwards of 390 degrees Fahrenheit, the Chinese space agency's China Lunar Exploration Program explained in a statement.

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Many lunar orbiters had shown the moon's two sides were very different: the near side is relatively flat, while the far side is thickly dotted with impact craters.

Among the images is a 360-degree panorama stitched together from 80 photos taken by a camera on the lander after it released the rover on to the lunar surface, Xinhua said, citing Li Chunlai, the deputy director of the National Astronomical Observatories of China and commander-in-chief of the Chang'e 4 ground application system. It is popularly called the "dark side" because it can't be seen from Earth and is relatively unknown, not because it lacks sunlight.

The deepest region on the moon, with a depth of 9,100 meters (5.7 miles), is about 700 kilometers (435 miles) 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 probe is shown adjusting its altitude, speed and pitch as it seeks to avoid obstacles on the ground.

The message, a reference to a past Chinese office tradition, was quickly met with joy as several netizens wished the rover luck on it endeavors on the far side of the moon.

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