Space

China's rover scoots across the far side of the Moon in fresh photo dump

China's rover scoots across th...
The Yutu 2 lander makes tracks across the Moon's far side
The Yutu 2 lander makes tracks across the Moon's far side
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Image taken from the Chang'e-4 probe after its soft landing on the Moon's surface
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Image taken from the Chang'e-4 probe after its soft landing on the Moon's surface
Wheel of the Yutu 2 rover
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Wheel of the Yutu 2 rover
China's Yutu 2 rover goes to work
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China's Yutu 2 rover goes to work
Image taken from the Chang'e-4 probe after powering down on the Moon
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Image taken from the Chang'e-4 probe after powering down on the Moon
The Yutu 2 lander makes tracks across the Moon's far side
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The Yutu 2 lander makes tracks across the Moon's far side
The Yutu 2 rover at work on the Moon's surface
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The Yutu 2 rover at work on the Moon's surface
China’s Chang'e-4 probe touched down in the Moon's South Pole–Aitken basin on January 3
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China’s Chang'e-4 probe touched down in the Moon's South Pole–Aitken basin on January 3
The Yutu 2 lander makes tracks across the Moon's far side
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The Yutu 2 lander makes tracks across the Moon's far side
The Chang'e-4 lander, as seen by the Yutu 2 rover
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The Chang'e-4 lander, as seen by the Yutu 2 rover
Panoramic image captured by the Chang'e-4 spacecraft
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Panoramic image captured by the Chang'e-4 spacecraft

China's landing of a probe on the far side of the Moon at the beginning of the year was a landmark moment for space exploration, and after operating in the dark for a little while new images are now starting to show its rover at work.

China's Chang'e-4 probe successfully descended to the Moon's surface on January 3, marking the first time a spacecraft had been deployed on our satellite's far side. Given the difficulty in communicating with this region of the Moon, as all radio contact with Earth is blocked, this was a monumental achievement for science, but really the work is just beginning.

The spacecraft's rover, named Yutu 2, left the rover behind and took off to explore its surroundings on January 6. Both vehicles are located in the Moon's 2,500-km wide (1,550-mi) South Pole–Aitken basin, and more specifically, the Von Kármán Crater, a large impact crater inside the basin around 180 km wide (111 mi).

The Chang'e-4 lander, as seen by the Yutu 2 rover
The Chang'e-4 lander, as seen by the Yutu 2 rover

Here the rover will be the first robot to ever explore this region from the ground, and will search its shadowy areas for signs of ancient water deposits. It is hoped the mission can also uncover new clues about the makeup of the lunar crust and mantle, improving our understanding of how the Moon came to be.

The new photos from China's National Space Administration show both the lander and rover components of the spacecraft getting settled into their new home, and the rover taking off into the distance. The set of images, triumphantly titled "Wonderful Gallery" on the agency's website, also include a shot of the Chang'e-4 lander taken from the Yutu 2 rover as its sets off across the crater, seen above.

China's Yutu 2 rover goes to work
China's Yutu 2 rover goes to work

Following the success of this trailblazing mission, China is now setting its sights on more pioneering space exploration, as reported by The Washington Post. This starts with another mission to the Moon this year called Chang'e-5, which hopes to collect samples from its surface for the first time since 1976. It also hopes to establish a Moon base called "Heavenly Palace" by 2022, and launch a mission to Mars as early as next year.

A newly released video shared by The Planetary Society also shows Chang'e-4's historic descent into the Von Kármán crater, captured by its Landing Camera on January 3. You can check it out below.

Source: China National Space Agency, The Planetary Society

Chang'e-4 descent video

4 comments
Grunchy
Lunar X-prize of $0 is claimed! Well that was anti-climactic. Anyway, good on China. Please stop victimizing Canadian citizens. 10-Q.
KaiserPingo
So fake. Its from the Gobi-desert !
PeterBrandt
Congrats to China, but looks like a lot of sand and rocks, is that worth the effort and cost? Should we screw up earth, is that where anyone wants to go...nevermind Mars???
warren52nz
I suppose we'll have the usual group of scientific illiterates claiming this was faked. I see we already have one in only three comments.