A Chinese lunar rover landed on the far side of the moon on Thursday, becoming the world’s first spacecraft to touch down on the moon’s uncharted side never visible from Earth, in a major boost to Beijing’s quest to become a space superpower.
The lunar explorer Chang’e-4 probe touched down on the far side of the moon and sent photos. The probe, comprising a lander and a rover, landed at the pre-selected landing area at 177.6 degrees east longitude and 45.5 degrees south latitude on the far side of the moon at 10:26 am (local time), China National Space Administration announced.
The probe was launched by a Long March-3B carrier rocket on December 8 from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in Sichuan Province. It landed on the Von Karman crater in the South Pole-Aitken basin and then sent back a picture of the landing site shot by one of the monitor cameras on the probe’s lander, marking the world’s first image taken on the moon’s far side.
The picture, published by the China National Space Administration, shows the place where Chang’e 4’s rover will be heading to roam and survey. The successful landing formally inaugurated the world’s first expedition to the far side that never faces the Earth and is expected to fulfill scientists’ long-held aspiration to closely observe the enormous region, state-run China Daily reported.
Tidal forces on Earth slow the moon’s rotation to the point where the same side always faces Earth. The other side, most of which is never visible from Earth, is the far side of the moon.