"Unexplored!" --China Releases First Photos of Moon's Far Side

This composite image made available by NASA in 2011 shows the far side of Earth’s moon.
NASA  Goddard  Arizona State University via AP  

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 just shared an image captured by its Chang'e 4 lunar lander, and it's a detailed image of the far side of the moon.

The rover on Saturday went into standby mode to protect itself from temperatures reaching towards 200 degrees Celsius (390 degrees Fahrenheit), the China Lunar Exploration Program under the China National Space Administration (CNSA) said. The photos reveal a seemingly endless horizon of grey, rocky terrain. 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.

CNSA said the Chang'e 4, the Yutu No. 2 patrol, and the "Yuqiao" relay star were reported to be in stable condition, after they safely landed on the far side of the moon on January 3.

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Instead, signals are sent from the lunar surface up to a relay satellite called Queqiao, which launched in May 2018 and is hovering in an orbital "parking spot" from which it can communicate with Earth.

The Jade Rabbit 2 rover shows off with its moon tracks in this image snapped by the Chang'e 4 lunar lander.

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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.

Li said that one of the craters close to the rover Yutu-2 has a diameter of about 20 meters and a depth of about 4 meters.

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.

"The information from the depths of the moon will be one of our focuses in the exploration", said Li.

The scientific instruments aboard the probe worked well, and the images taken by the probe and the detection data have been sent back to ground control, said the China National Space Administration (CNSA). The Chang'e 4 is shown adjusting its altitude, speed and pitch as it seeks to avoid craters and uneven surfaces before it lands. The basin is the largest and deepest impact crater in the solar system.

The far side has been observed many times from lunar orbits, but never explored on the surface.

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