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First 360-degree image of the far side of the Moon released
12 January 2019, 08:24 | Edward Lowe
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China became the first country to successfully land a probe on the far side of the Moon when the Chang'e 4 lander reached the lunar surface on January 2.
"The Chang'e-4 mission is the first of the fourth phase of China's lunar exploration mission, and it's the first time in human history that a spacecraft realized soft-landing and toured the far side of the moon".
Because the panorama was captured by the Chang'e 4 lander, it shows on the left the Yutu 2 rover, complete with the tire tracks left behind by the adventuring robot.
The probe, comprised of a lander and a rover, touched down at the preselected landing area at 177.6 degrees east longitude and 45.5 degrees south latitude in the Von Karman Crater in the South Pole-Aitken (SPA) Basin on the far side of the moon on January 3.
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China is the first country to have successfully landed a probe on the moon's dark side - called so because it is never visible from Earth, as the moon's rotation is synchronised with its orbit around our planet.
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Pictures transmitted back show a rocky surface with the jagged edge of craters in the background, posing a challenge for controllers in plotting the rover's future travels, the official Xinhua News Agency said.
"From the panorama, we can see the probe is surrounded by lots of small craters, which was really thrilling", Li was quoted as saying.
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The Moon's far side is also known as the dark side because it faces away from Earth and remains comparatively unknown, with a different composition from sites on the near side, where previous missions have landed. They are starting to gather observations on the lunar far side and should send science data back within the next few weeks, according to CNSA. The rugged terrain will pose great challenges for planning the route of the rover, said Li.
"The information from the depths of the moon will be one of our focuses in the exploration", said Li.
The Chinese space administration also released a 12-minute video of the spacecraft's landing, which can be seen below. The probe is shown adjusting its altitude, speed and pitch as it seeks to avoid obstacles on the ground. The basin is the largest and deepest impact crater in the solar system.
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