Chinese Moon Rover Making Tracks on Lunar Far Side

Chinese Moon Rover Making Tracks on Lunar Far Side

A Chinese spacecraft has made the first-ever landing on the far side of the moon in the latest achievement for the country's growing space programme.

Beijing is pouring billions into its military-run space program. 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. The next step is for China to build its own space station next year, with the hope of having it operative as early as 2022.

Because the moon is tidally locked with Earth, the same half always faces Earth.

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.

Unlike the near side of the moon, which offers many flat areas to touch down on, the far side is mountainous and rugged.




Chang'e 4 is carrying six experiments from China and four from overseas, including low-frequency radio astronomical studies, which aim to take advantage of the lack of interference on the far side. It may hold clues to the moon's origins, prove rich in minerals, and possibly serve as a "future refueling base for missions deeper into space".

Every semester, Purdue University lunar and planetary scientist Jay Melosh demonstrates how the far side gets light using a bright light as the sun and students playing the roles of the moon and the Earth.

In May, China launched Queqiao, a satellite that will help relay the rover's communication. Yutu 2 has already put a fair bit of space between itself and the lander, trundling over near the rim of a small crater on the floor of Von Kármán, which itself lies within an even larger impact feature - the 1,550-mile-wide (2,500 km) South Pole-Aitken Basin.

It is the second Chinese spacecraft to land on the only natural satellite of our planet, following the Yutu rover mission in 2013. China last year launched more rockets into space than any other nation and plans another moon landing, the Chang-e 5, later this year.

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