China's moon rover prepares for a rough ride on the dark side

11 January, 2019, 21:54 | Author: Darnell Taylor
  • China Clearly a Country in a Hurry When It Comes to Space

Video has been released showing the Chang'e-4 lunar probe, launched in December, making a "soft landing" on the moon at 0226 GMT on January 3.

China on Friday (January 11) announced that the Chang'e-4 mission, the first-ever probe to land on the Moon's dark side, was a "complete success" as it transmitted images back to earth through a special relay satellite, according to a PTI report.

The rover is exploring the landing site in the Von Kármán crater on the side of the moon that faces away from Earth, sometimes called "the dark side of the moon" even though it receives plenty of sunlight.

The 308-pound rover, part of China's Chang'e-4 mission, initially went on a standby mode on Saturday to protect itself from the heat on the moon's surface, which can reach upwards of 390 degrees Fahrenheit, the Chinese space agency's China Lunar Exploration Program explained in a statement.

The Chang´e-4 probe is equipped with instruments developed by scientists from Sweden, Germany and China to study the lunar environment, cosmic radiation and the interaction between solar wind and the moon´s surface, Zhang Hongbo, chief designer of the ground application system, told state broadcaster CCTV.

Several photos show the lunar rover Yutu-2 driving into the distance.

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These images were sent back via the relay satellite Queqiao, which was operating around the second Lagrangian point of the earth-moon system, about 455,000 kilometers from earth, where it can see both celestial bodies.

A camera deployed on Chang'e-4 took a photo that was released by the China National Space Administration (CNSA) today. Its first unprocessed images made the moon look quite reddish, but the familiar gray of the moon is clearly seen in the exciting panorama shot.

Dark side of the Moon in motion.

The craters close to the rover - including one that was 20 meters wide (65 feet) with a depth of about four meters (13 feet) - will pose great challenges when planning its route, Li said.

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

The video, lasting about 12 minutes, shows the probe adjusted its altitude, hovered and avoided obstacles during the descent process.

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