Chinese rover begins exploring moon's far side


The Chinese rover on the far side of the moon is leaving its tracks in the soft lunar surface.

Remember when we said that China's lunar probe was in position and that any day now it would land on the dark side of the moon and make history?

China's Chang'e 4 spacecraft has touched down on the Moon, state media reports, making it the first-ever probe to set down on the far side of Earth's natural satellite.

Xinhua, a state-run news agency, reports that the China National Space Administration's Chang'e-4 touched down on the moon's surface at 10:26 a.m., Beijing time, on January 3, 2019. The tidal lockstep means that humans can't see the far side of the moon without sending a spacecraft there, which first happened in October 1959, with the flight of the Soviet Union's Luna 3 probe.

The far side of the moon, because it faces away from Earth, isn't polluted by radio "noise" from our planet.

TRT World spoke to Associate Professor of Astrophysics at Keele University Jacco van Loon.

While China has insisted its ambitions are purely peaceful, the US Defense Department has accused it of pursuing activities aiming to prevent other nations from using space-based assets during a crisis.

The United States, the former Soviet Union and more recently China have sent spacecraft to the near side of the moon, but the latest Chinese landing is the first on the far side.

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China's lunar probe launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in the Sichuan province on December 8.

China conducted its first crewed space mission in 2003 - only the third country to do so after Russian Federation and the US.

The Chang'e-4 probe which has already sent back its first close-up pictures from the surface is carrying instruments to analyse the unexplored region's geology and will conduct biological experiments. The exploration could shed new light on the origin of the moon. It's expected the lander will now extend a ramp to allow the rover to drive on to the lunar surface.

At the weekend, Chinese state media said the probe had entered an elliptical path around the Moon, bringing the vehicles to within 15km of the lunar surface at its closest point.

The blast-off marked the start of a long journey to the far side of the moon for the Chang'e-4 mission.

Infographic of the Chang'e-4 lunar landing mission. Its mission will be to obtain geological samples on the near side of the moon and send these back to Earth.

The moon has a side it never shows us. Beijing plans to launch construction of its own manned space station next year.