China broadcasts pictures from far 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

China announced Friday that the Chang'e-4 mission, which realized the first-ever soft-landing on the far side of the moon, was a complete success.

The rover and lander began testing and calibrating instruments, with the China National Space Administration (CNSA) releasing images of the activity from lander monitoring cameras. After making a soft landing on January 3 at 10:26 am, Chang'e 4 released a lunar rover to roam and survey its surroundings in the Von Karman crater, the moon's largest, oldest and deepest one, located in the South Pole-Aitken basin.

Chang'e-4 landed in the Von Karman Crater within the South Pole-Aitken Basin. Its first unprocessed images made the moon look quite reddish, but the familiar gray of the moon is clearly seen in the exciting panorama shot.

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"From the panorama, we can see the probe is surrounded by lots of small craters, which was really thrilling", Li was quoted as saying. The other face, most of which can not be seen from Earth, is called the far side or dark side of the Moon, not because it is dark, but because most of it is uncharted.

The program has achieved five continuous successes, said CNSA, referring to Chang'e-1, Chang'e-2, Chang'e-3, a test craft for Chang'e-5 and Chang'e-4.

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

To overcome the problem, the China National Space Administration launched the Queqiiao relay satellite, last May to assist with the relay exchange between Earth and the Chang'e-4 probe.

The scientists of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter of NASA have also cooperated with Chang'e-4 mission team to study the landing of the Chang'e-4 probe, according to the CNSA. The rugged terrain will pose great challenges for planning the route of the rover.

The deepest region on the moon, with a depth of 9,100m, is about 700km 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", said Li. The Chang'e 4 is shown adjusting its altitude, speed and pitch as it seeks to avoid craters and uneven surfaces before it lands.

Scientists have said the far side is a key area for solving several unknowns about the moon, including its internal structure and thermal evolution.

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