Chinese rover begins exploring far side of the moon

Yutu 2 leaving track marks as it begins to explore the surface of the far side of the moon

Yutu 2 leaving track marks as it begins to explore the surface of the far side of the moon

On Wednesday night (Jan. 2), the Chang'e 4 rover and its stationary-lander companion pulled off the first-ever soft touchdown on the lunar far side, coming to a rest inside the 115-mile-wide (186 kilometers) Von Kármán Crater.

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.

The six-wheeled rover, known as Yutu 2, isn't pausing to catch its breath, as a newly released photo shows. The far side has been observed many times from lunar orbits, but never explored on the surface. Both China's space community and public have taken pride in the accomplishment, with some drawing comparisons to the US.

The U.S. Congress has banned NASA from working with China on space exploration because of national security concerns. Previous landings, including one by China's Chang'e 3 in 2013, have been on the near side.

China's space programme lags America's, but has made great strides in the past 15 years, including manned flights and a space laboratory that is seen as a precursor to plans for a space station.

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The news cheered people on the streets of Beijing on Friday, many of whom said it showed that China can now achieve or even surpass what the United States has done. "It means our science and technology ability is getting stronger and the country is becoming more powerful".

The head of the Russian state space corporation Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, Thursday congratulated the Chinese colleagues on the successful landing of the Chang'e-4 probe.

The news inspired dreamier thoughts for advertising employee Shang Yuegang. It has a maximum speed of 200 metres per hour and can climb a 20-degree hill or an obstacle up to 20cm tall.

"Since the far side of the moon is shielded from electromagnetic interference from the Earth, it's an ideal place to research the space environment and solar bursts, and the probe can "listen" to the deeper reaches of the cosmos", Tongjie Liu, deputy director of the Lunar Exploration and Space Program Center for the China National Space Administration, told CNN.

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