Thursday, 24 January, 2019

China lands first spacecraft on far side of 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 Photos show Chinese rover making tracks on the far side of the moon
Sandra Phillips | 07 January, 2019, 19:07

There had been no confirmation as to exactly what time it will touch down, but state-run China Daily reported (via BBC News) that the Chang'e-4 would start descending on its thrusters sometime between January 2 to 3.

He posted: "Congratulations to China's Chang'e-4 team for what appears to be a successful landing on the far side of the Moon".

New photos from China's space agency show its lunar rover leaving tracks on the far side of the moon, at the start of a historic exploration mission.

"With the communication assistance of the relay satellite Queqiao, the lander sent back the first-ever close-up photograph of the Moon's far side, opening a new chapter in lunar exploration".

It then released a rover, named Yutu-2, which rolled out onto the surface down a ramp.

This would be a historic achievement for mankind as a whole as the rugged terrain of the Moon's far side has made it hard for vehicles to land safely there.

Nevertheless, this is a significant step in China's bid to become a leading power in space exploration, alongside the United States and Russian Federation.

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The Jade Rabbit 2 rover has six wheels that all have power, so it can continue to operate even if one wheel fails. It has a maximum speed of 200 metres per hour and can climb a 20-degree hill or an obstacle up to 20cm tall.

The rover's designer, Shen Zhenrong of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, described the far side of the moon's surface to the state broadcaster CCTV as "soft" and "similar to that when you are walking on the snow", the AP reported.

It is the second Chinese spacecraft to land on the only natural satellite of our planet, following the Yutu rover mission in 2013.

Lunar exploration chief Wu Weiren echoed Neil Armstrong's famous quote, telling state media the event marked a "huge stride" for China.

One Hong Kong Twitter user claimed that a reliable Chinese spaceflight source confirmed that the Chang'e-4 has indeed touched down on the Moon.

China has chosen the name "Yutu-2", or Jade Rabbit-2, for its new moon rover, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) announced late Thursday. The first human-made object to hit the far side was NASA's Ranger 4 craft in 1964; it crashed after a system failure.

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