China’s lunar rover drives smoothly on moon’s far side

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.

The relatively unexplored far side of the moon faces away from Earth and is also known as the dark side.

"We are pleased that the power equipment of the Chang'e-4 mission is supplied by radioisotope sources of electricity produced in Russian Federation", he said.

The far side of the moon is more rugged than the near side, so Chinese officials adjusted the descent trajectory for the Chang'e 4 mission to a more vertical profile from the curved profile used on Chang'e 3, China's previous lunar lander which touched down on the near side in 2013.

One of the challenges of exploring the far side of the moon is communication.

Chang'e-4 is carrying six experiments from China and four from overseas, including low-frequency radio astronomical studies - aiming to take advantage of the lack of interference on the moons' far side. One of the initial images sent back by Chang'e 4 shows a small crater and barren surface on the far side of the moon.

Beijing is pouring billions into its military-run space program, with hopes of having a crewed space station by 2022, and of eventually sending humans to the moon.

In Chinese folklore, Yutu is the white pet rabbit of Chang'e, the moon goddess who lent her name to the Chinese lunar mission.

These allegations have come up after recent analysis of pictures taken from the Chinese Chang'e-4 probe allegedly found no traces of the American Moon landings existing on the Moon. It shows the desksized, six-wheeled Yutu 2 (Jade Rabbit 2) rover as it rolled down lander ramps and across the surface near local sunrise and the start of the two week long lunar day.

China was the first to complete a "soft landing", without damage, on the far side of the moon.

The rover will also conduct mineral and radiation tests, the China National Space Administration has said, according to state news agency Xinhua.

Beijing is planning to send another lunar lander, Chang'e-5, later this year to collect samples and bring them back to Earth.

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