Published: Mon, January 07, 2019
Sci-tech | By Jackie Newman

China's new lunar rover leaves first 'footprint' on moon's far side

China's new lunar rover leaves first 'footprint' on moon's far side

The photo of the rover was sent via the Queqiao (Magpie Bridge) satellite, which was blasted into the moon's orbit in May to relay data and commands between the lander and Earth.

As The Verge reports, exploring the far side of the Moon is a very hard task because it's always facing away from the Earth meaning communication is extremely hard.

The separation of the rover - which is named after the moon goddess' pet white rabbit - went smoothly, said Wu Weiren, chief designer of the lunar project. Previous spacecraft have seen the far side of the moon but none has landed on it.

At 10:26 Beijing time (02:26 GMT), the un-crewed Chang'e-4 probe touched down in the South Pole-Aitken Basin, state media said.

The unmanned lunar missions are part of China's ambitions to join the United States and Russian Federation as a major space power.

It was only in 1959, when the first images of the far side were beamed back by the Soviet Union's Luna 3, that intriguing differences were revealed. The Communist controlled Global Times also said the probe had "successfully made the first-ever soft landing" on the far side of the moon.

China's lunar exploration is an indication of its desire to become a space power. 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 country has hurried to catch up with the achievements of the United States and Russian Federation as its economy and technology become more advanced.

Chinese lunar explorer Chang'e 4 touches down on the far side of the moon
Image The lander Chang'e 4 touches down on the Lunar rock

"This time the Chang'e-4 mission have a very good start".

For now, it plans to send a Chang'e 5 probe to the Moon next year and have it return to Earth with samples.

Months back, China launched relay satellites that help the lander and rover to remain in contact with its handlers on Earth despite not being in direct line-of-sight. But it is often called the dark side because it faces away from Earth and little is known about it.

"This probe can fill the gap of low-frequency observation in radio astronomy and will provide important information for studying the origin of stars and nebula evolution".

These models cover terrain slopes, crater distribution, rock abundances, and geological history of the region as well as terrain occlusion to sun illumination and telecommunication.

The transfer mechanism unlocked as planned with one side reaching the moon's surface, allowing the rover to descend to the surface from the slope. "And we're gradually realizing it".

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