January 19, 2019

The 'dark' side of the moon

07 January 2019, 11:43 | Edward Lowe

Photos show Chinese rover making tracks on the far side of the moon

Yutu-2 China's lunar rover leaves wheel marks after leaving the lander that touched down on the surface of the far side of the moon. — AP

In Beijing, however, the successful departure of the rover was heralded as a giant leap for China's space programme, 50 years after Neil Armstrong left his footprints on the moon.

China's lunar rover drives smoothly on moon's far side By Xinhua Saturday, January 05, 2019, 11:35 By Xinhua Photo provided by the China National Space Administration on Jan 4, 2019 shows image of Yutu-2, China's lunar rover, at preset location A on the surface of the far side of the moon.

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

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The Jade Rabbit 2 rover has succeeded in establishing a digital transmission link with a relay satellite that sends data back to the Beijing control center, the space agency said in a posting late Friday on its website.

Launched on Dec 8, 2018, China's Chang'e-4 lunar probe, comprising a lander and a rover, landed on the far side of the moon Thursday morning. "The other side is not dark, it's just far", said Harvard astronomer Avi Loeb.

Yutu 2 leaving track marks as it begins to explore the surface of the far side of the moon. The far side has been observed many times from lunar orbits, but never explored on the surface. Yutu 2 has already put a fair bit of space between itself and the lander, trundling over near the rim of a small crater on the floor of Von Kármán, which itself lies within an even larger impact feature - the 1,550-mile-wide (2,500 km) South Pole-Aitken Basin.

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"I think this is very good evidence that we are now able to compete with the Americans", said energy company employee Yao Dajun.

China's mission is to learn more about the little-understood region of the moon and compete with the U.S. and Russian Federation as a powerhouse of space exploration. It is popularly called the "dark side" because it can't be seen from Earth and is relatively unknown, not because it lacks sunlight.

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